Every Other Day Aubade
for Eliot Wilson
There is a sky like no sky
I’ve ever seen before and I want to
hunker down in it.
We were caught between
a hurricane and what-happens-next.
Your modus operandi was Hoping for the Best.
Your weapon of choice: Departure.
But you knew how to use magic as a verb
and lasso the wildebeests, so we slid into a magnetic
poem and stayed awhile. The honeymoon stanza
was plush, our credit cards beyond the limit, you planted peppers,
plucked spider lilies in my honor, called a rainbow collect
then reversed charges to my front yard so that I had paved road
to my own patch of heaven. That many colored beanstalk
and you Jack, were the only gentle-eyed gardener in town
who could whip a giant’s ass and a tomato basil soufflé
all in the same afternoon.
One August, a troop of frogs popcorned the forest floor
and the rain polka-ed across the ballroom lake.
We were newly concatenated and five seasons
had yet to have their way with us.
We fell open
like a jewelry box everything sparkley
spilling out and no chimey music, no plastic ballerina
twirling on a single screw in a tutu made of stiff cheesecloth
or some sorry excuse for the kind of net that could catch
anything and keep it for long.
Save history and words—which will hold us
pieta-ed—in the glare off their plate-glassed face
with a view.
We were cashed out so you found pennies, saved crickets,
sold the oil-spill casing of the june bug for kisses.
I mis-sent letters, I made afraid. If there was a dimmer switch
in that bright season, I was the one who found it. The sky went
tornado-y and we looked for cover under the wide-open very-heaven
and you palimpsested a forever
into that liveable-fall of an afternoon.
We made elevators and ferris wheels into the saddest inventions
(anything that tried to lift us up, holding us down
& kept everyone’s tongues in their own seamless mouths.
We missed the fair that year (everything sounding metaphorical now,)
stayed too long in a town whose nearest amusement
park was four hours away.
We magiced the dim, bicycled out into
a noon foggy with mosquitoes:
You were so sorry then, never knowing how loved you were
for your foolish plans, your worldwide open heart. I’m beachbound
to climb that lifeguard chair and from such a height,
to say: You luster the seashells: abalone in and stay for a while, won’t you
my wife of a flooded kitchen with ghost utensils swimming
free of the black linoleum. Let me cover you in seashell armor:
the broken terrapin (the same autumn green that pools inside
your eyes,) our only blues stolen from the rescued-crustaceans
of your childhood, some mother-of-pearl for moping. We were hoping
for a break in the storm, a change of weather
a train to take us stitch by iron stitch
to a town not at all this town. We despised the wandering minstrels
except for the boy who did wheelies, and the one who stayed home,
a boy with haystack hair and an angelic elf who flew
from his heels when he sang:
they were our own.
You were the boy who saw faces in the bark and knotholes
of every living tree, who saw something in me
(so I blinded him.) I won’t ever let it be true
that I’ve forgotten how to kiss you.
You well-meaner, joy-generator: you splint
the giraffe’s crooked neck with the last popsicle stick
cross of the yard sale. You balsa-wood-pilot
in love with flight. Your name begins
with a three step ladder:
I’ve spent centuries, Darling, trying to climb.
I’m through with restraint,
take care, I tell you, take care
in a knapsack slung over your shoulder
if anyone asks, say I gave you all I had.
If anyone asks say it was I who put it there.
You caller-in-of-rainbows, hair wild as you are
tender at the eyes–nevermind touch
just to look at you is so much. This is a morning song for lovers’
yoohooing back over the wide distance of the day ahead.
Oh saviour of the box turtle, Ben Franklin
of the box kite this is a mourning song
full of piccolos and strung to a housekey worn
down from five seasons
of who we were and how we loved and tied to the kite
that sewed a boy like you to me and drew,
(still draws) an etch-a-sketch of electricity.
Every Other Day Aubade first appeard in Mot Juste.