It’s a child’s color or it should be tasting like early summer
before it fades to the broom-sweep coat of the dog days.
But now our nightmares are tinted and fulgent and crackling like neon— .
not popsicle orange [not even close] not the rhymeless drop
of a candy piece
not the snake bite of citrus off the branch of an actual tree.
It is chemical orange warning-vest orange orange like the sallow
skin of an orange president
sloughing and pocked marred inbred insalubrious and undeserving.
It’s the natural shade of unearned confidences,
the tone of repetition without development
[which is closer to yellow-brown]
like the crumbling of dog hair quaffed
over a dome that cannot bear critique
or the lightest tint of condemnation.
There is distance [now] between the lovers’ actions
and what motivates those actions,
the result of futile attempts to return to an earlier diffident state.
“Ambiguous loss,” the psychologists call it.
All that had been natural becomes defibrillation [fills with resolution and purpose]
but is in no sense pleasurable.
Even if his outward displays appear similar, the impulses behind them are not.
He dreams of being murdered in my sleep or of extinction I of ragged sails
failing miscarrying blowing kisses in the wind to my pirate ancestors.
He remembers folding an atlas once in his father’s car,
recalls a poem where the speaker was cartographed like a city map:
this part, the Tagus another, the Braga Bridge this, the Hancock Tower.
How tedious and ancient to always see in pieces,
to be mad in love with the synecdochal and metonymic.
I admit to getting lost in mirrors, turning without fail in the wrong direction
like a shift into second person.
Recall that you are largely rhetorical, anyway,
having evolved to where being used and being useful has no distinction,
like the little reflection in your diary: unfair unkind and unmarked.