by Barbara Jane Reyes
Let the man who cannot dream be a condemned man. Who comes here but shadows of ourselves, where smoke seeps into plush velvet the color of lipstick, of juice and blood. This place is my dreamweaving, its iron sculptures, framed in light. Flickering chandeliers’ fake fire. Still, wax melts and curls around my feet. The tables here are scratched brass, carved with names and regrets. You who regret, that is who you become. And you who need, but do not know why you need, and why you need from me, your need opens something in me which knows to anticipate dread. I anticipate your reprimand, and worse yet, I anticipate your promise. Tell me then, as if I knew no words, tell me why it is you have created me to dread you.
Were I to assign us color, we would be mood ring, and then I would understand how heat and pressure make us glow bright crimson in our faux gold casing, how blood makes us aquamarine, oceanic and unfathomed. Think of your pulse, beneath an undulating mirror of sky, think of salt crystallizing upon thighs and hands and lips, feathery seagrass tickling the soles of our feet. How even the coolest freshwater springs are momentary, dissipating. How moonless winters and sunrises can be taken hostage, and then how nothing touches you. How this causes you to forget you are standing. Perhaps you are drowning, for you cannot feel your lungs. Even the sky refuses to give its light to you, you, who have forgotten how to breathe.
Tell me how it is your body sustains itself, how your ribcage is beyond bursting, yet you still walk one foot in front of the next, counting and naming, counting and naming. How are these words still foreign sounds to you. How is it your skin still warms you, your pupils still responding to movement. You who are a living shadow, a mountain echo, tell me how you can possibly need, and how you can possibly need from me.
Were I to assign you color, you would be opaque, a fine slice of opal beneath the moon’s veil. Were I to touch you, you’d shatter, and then crumble into jasmine scented powder. I would gather you beneath my fingernails, dust my love lines with you. Lover, I would break you. Lover, I will break you. Let there be the veil then, embroidered with flowers from my dreams, petals resembling moths and serpents, leaves like clouds and unnamable desires. Let me always glance at empty doorways, knowing the movements beyond these are you drawing near.
Let this be the natural law — Lover, I will break you and compose a symphony with your bones. Of what remains, I shall grind into dust and mix with the rain. Lover, do not come near, for I see a poem in your broken parts. Lover, do not promise, for when you do, I come to loathe words. Lover, do not speak, for what you say is vapor.
So here have I become the morning, and this is why water, and why jeweled skies, and why the night, and how it is that silver makes song. Lover, did you not know I wrote my own creation story? Did you not know, we all do.
Other poems by Barbara Jane Reyes in ActionYes #2:
she laments unnumbered losses
(t)here (the exile's new song)
Eve Speaks 2