I have nothing to offer tonight,
my bones hang slack like puppets
dropped on the theater floor.
Such tithes fall with soft alterations,
minute differences to tangle vaguely
like the cracks along a tortoise shell;
more broken auguries scattered
across a mendicant’s bed to wait
upon a new kind of prayer.
Whispered ululations ribbon sorrow
through the day’s transitional phrases
until we drown in its white noise.
A silence drapes, like wet ash,
upon every potential charm
a priest could mask us with.
I find comfort in these shadows,
the side chapels tucked along
the familiar stations of the cross.
The empty sanctuary swallows
all sounds. Even footsteps rise
like bits of dust, then die.
And what is death but a sigh?
A return to the transient air,
like leaves into the earth.
I still hear the shape of her
voice, like distant outlines
of smoke between battered trees.
So many traces still remain:
genetic markers, slight scents,
our last conversations.
Fragmented nights and days
of innuendo and misinterpretation
slip away in bashful innocence.
My memory’s a mosaic
I piece together, reshaping
regret and hope, yet again.
I worry over echoes whose origins
no longer can be traced back
to her voice laughing nearby.
(October 10, 2015)