Despite my status as eternal poster girl for delayed gratification,
my Buddhist inclinations and the oceans of my patience
I will want you like the moon wanted the sun
on the twenty-fifth of March.
Sometimes I am willing to eclipse a planet
for the full force of your cosmic love;
sometimes I am prepared to throw twilight on the world
for four blazing minutes of
“Touch me everywhere” you said
and I thought well, that’s a bit of a tall order.
Depending on the month, it is easy to spread skin over skeleton
you the crepe and I the argan-oil trowel but
not so easy to pull out and polish your pelvic bone,
reupholster your stonewash esophagus
fishtail braid your brain circuitry into
something nicer to look at.
Then again, the quickest way to your insides
has always been through metaphor:
I can make so with surface surgery,
bumps and blisters on your body
Braille of your academic in/adequacy
of your underestimating family
of money and money and money
of your little daily apocalypse—
stress will make papier-mâché of you and
on good days, my palms soft sandpaper.
It took eleven months to ferment these mirror neurons into
something you could read—
you’ll have to excuse me.
We were out of yeast.
We had to use yearning instead
and of all the emotional alcohols
longing takes longest to distill—
still, of every barrel you could choose to age a poem in,
my ribcage is the finest cask around.
It’s ready for you now,
pulled from my fingertip taps
a shotglass full of sentiment
a tumbler full of promise:
“I love you like the barley fields of Egypt loved the Nile.
Enough to laugh a harvest at her tickling;
enough to wait a drought out when she drains;
enough to invent the concept of a calendar
just so she could book the whole thing off for
a tryst fit to fatten a kingdom.”
(Drink up, drink up—
we have a whole bottle of this stuff to get through.)
And who’s to say I was ever the mentor
in the first place?
You, with your rabbit fur couched in Lizard Queen skin
with the age-old army at your back getting restless
you could make me an apprentice, if you tried.
Teach me something I didn’t know I knew nothing about and
make me trip to catch up,
make me strive for the mystery curving your lips
the answers giggling smoky-eyed behind pearly white fans—
let me get to them on my own.
Bestow me breathless, wide-eyed ignorance;
grant me the gift of process,
of beauty and sickness and beauty in sickness
remind me how not to be the smartest one in the room.
Teach me how to use words like torpedoes and tourniquets,
teach me how to talk like a punch to the soul
how to convert my waveform voice
into shivers up
other people’s spines—
read me the Torah, The Red Tent,
the past inscribed on palms
tell me if my grandmother knows
I still wear her sterling silver.
Tell me about Rachel and Regina,
tell me about sex and second breakfast,
tell me about what flashed unbidden into mind
when you heard the words “tell me”.
You, with your gypsy moth eyelashes and your hollow-boned hands
your shuddering humanity,
make me an apprentice and make the classroom life:
show me a stage and how to walk it,
show me a poem and how to own it,
show me a world and how to conquer it—
show me a basement,
a blue heart.