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March 31, 2016 | Poetry

Two Poems

Ali Shapiro

Two Poems photo

Leaving Would Be Easier If One or Maybe Both of Us Were Dead

Sometimes I wish for it—a vanishing
point, a place where our bodies could go
to finally stop moving. To hold you like the Cape
holds the quiet bay, in the crook
of its long dark arm. But the moon
is a searchlight tonight, the wind
one long moan, and this house
has too many doors that slam open
and closed. Once I wished
to be stranded like this, to have the choice
made for me—the lines
down, the roads frozen, the nearest
town miles away, and you
with your mouth so close
to my ear I could feel
your whisper steaming: Make
me scream
. But
how? I’ve lost
the bag I meant to zip this in, the ax
I meant to chop it up with, the map
to where I’d stash it in the woods.
I know no one gets off
scot-free, it’s because
of the body, the way
it remembers. Sometimes you jump
when I touch your throat, sometimes you stand
at the window and wrap
yourself in your own
thin arms, watching the blank
black screen of the night, the invisible boats
clanging their halyards
like ghosts. We could see
them if we turned
all the lights off the way
that we used to—the way once, you were sure
who was out there, and if it was me
what I would do to you.

Objective Collapse Theory

If a tree falls in your neighborhood in Brooklyn and crushes a red station wagon that it turns out you’re not driving, can anyone hear how loud and fast my heart’s still beating? If I leave rambling, incoherent apologies on your voicemail at four in the morning, is it still impressive that I’ve quit drinking? And if I just call and hang up? If I seal you in a box with a flask of poison and a radioactive source, will you still eventually fall in love with someone new? And if I never open the box, will you be simultaneously in love with someone new and still in love with me, forever? If I miss you, can I not want to see you? If I love you, can I not really miss you? If there’s an insulated door between us and a demon to open it, will my body be flooded with heat every time I think I hear you knock? And if my body is an isolated physical system in which entropy never decreases, will I ever get enough of that heat? Does the flag move, or does the wind move, or does the wind keep blowing my hair in my eyes, so it looks like everything’s moving? If I love you and miss you but don’t want to see you, and if I start drinking again, and then want to see you but don’t know where to find you, and all the trees in Prospect Park appear to be falling, are they? Or am I? If I’ve lost it completely but hold it together in front of you, is anything actually lost? And if I love you but forget I love you, or if I love you but forget to tell you, or if I remember the room and the clothes on the floor and where your hands were and where my hands were but I don’t remember the door, then where did you go?
 

image: Ian Amberson


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