I have forgotten
how to fold and unfold
myself into a word,
into a juncture, into a verse.
I’ve forgotten how to live
at the front of my significance.
To hug the curves of life
dripped like a red silk dress
over the mannequin of a day.
I have forgotten how to be a poet,
though anyone who can drip like a red silk dress
over the mannequin of a day
must remember something.
The problem is, I’m not talking
about the writing of poetry.
Anyone can do that. The problem is,
I’ve forgotten how to be a poet.
I’d like to blame my last lover
the one who wore creased pink shirts
and jeans with cowboy boots,
the one who wrote poetry about desire,
the one from Alabama,
his slow drawl in my ear as his hands
traversed my body,
the one who called himself
I’d like to say he took my articulation,
folded my words in parchment paper,
the same paper he wrapped dead peonies,
lavender chocolate, and my body,
not everyone realizes the beauty of betrayal.
My words crisp like autumn leaves
scatter underfoot. See I can write poetry.
And I – to extend the metaphor –
a garden rake without teeth,
a worm without dirt,
a bird without air to fly.
Sometimes, when I can’t hear
reasons not to be lonely,
or I forget how to crawl out of memory,
or be other than the sum of my past,
or more than a single small wave,
alone and wondering how to climb the beach,
That’s when I remember the truest poetry
I offer is the lifeness of my life.
The things that have nothing to do with poetry;
the toothbrush I put in a pink glass,
the turquoise mug that holds my first cup of tea,
the Jane Austen notepad next to my bed
with a lead pencil, the one
where when you push on one end,
out comes the lead from the other as if by magic,
as if I’d never ever run out.