Pen to Paper: Mantra of the Unforgiven

Who is she? you asked, and I said

she swallowed the sun, sometime while I wasn’t watching,

while the ghosts were speaking to me from the shadows,

while you were watching the door and she

came gliding in.

You say we have the same face, but

you can tell she isn’t me when she laughs because

I never sounded like that.

You can tell she isn’t me 

because of the loose joints in her limbs 

which move like butter.

Mine are more like storm winds,

more like locks, centuries old.

Who is she? you asked.  Who is she and 

how did she come to inhabit the space beneath your skin?

She is the lies of my tongue and I told you

she came in when my bones were broken and

a girl with a small and certain voice was telling me 

out out out.

The dominant voice of the weather is grey,

a sorrowful grey that speaks in long sighs, that makes itself known through cold harsh waters.

Had I understood the language of crows

like a ghost like a ghost like a ghost

I would have understood the cognitive distance between now and never,

like a ghost

come creeping across empty wood floors.

The rain is seeping through the window frames, perspiring on the glass,

and I draw figures in the drops,

people who dance in drought times and long for seas.

I caught my own eyes in the mirror and ever so slowly

passed out of sight.

In the morning, I failed to appear.

You asked me who she was and all I could cough out was

like a ghost like a ghost like a ghost

watching myself in the shutter-stop of the subway window,

watching the East River waves come crashing down 

around those breaking cheeks, sorrow-washed.

You can tell she isn’t me, if you are watching close, because

like a ghost like a ghost like a ghost

you will see I have ceased to be


Leave a Reply