Shelter in Place

Before the sun rises, I let his shadow hold me.
Dawn threatens the blackout curtains.
Another day waiting, another sun and moon
giving way to more empty rooms
in the dayless patchwork of quarantine.

I remember how he is when his words are flesh
and his voice isn’t saved up in a jar:

I roll into the spot where he used to sleep
with his head turned sideways,
flushed hills of his chest rising and falling—
the pink of his neck pulsing with dreams
as his breath rises to greet the morning.

He tells me he doesn’t dream.
I don’t believe it,
just like I don’t believe his face when it closes
when a camera attacks him.
He fights with strange gazes.
He builds fortresses and unlocks doors,
invites clever dragons into his garden.
I read the lines in his face,
know the way his eyes soften
when he opens.

I am pierced with shards of him
that surprise me with blood
while I’m doing the dishes.
I am pierced by the timelessness
and placelessness of this love,
like this day that’s never-ending
and merges with the night.

He is always with me.

He is gold dust on my palms
that stays when I wash them,
music on clear headphones
I listen to in silence.
His shadow dances around me
and sleeps against my shoulder.
He fills me from miles away.

My body grew tired of stretching its runners
along highways and forests. I became pale green;
I need to curl around things.
I laid down roots
around a house we’re building in the sky.
Above the clouds, I sleep all day,
far away from the distance.
The map of him fits in my pocket now.

In solitude, the emptiness of rooms grows louder,
each requiring cleaning.
The walls become more comfortable
as I shelter in place.
Time becomes grotesque, chimeric
as we barricade ourselves in our foxholes
of toilet paper and Red Hot Blues.
Death and taxes,
dishes and news.
The world spins faster on its axis.
The cardinals at the feeder give me déjà vu.

Can we slip through a rip in the fabric
and land on the other side?
I look through the window
to Outside, a universe of discrete worlds
locked in, connected by the Web—
and wonder how I can hurtle from room to room,
like in the video for that Jamiroquai song
I sung for three days straight after we watched Napoleon Dynamite
that wasn’t actually about “candy in his heels” tonight,
which is a bummer, because I miss that sweet taste
and come to think of it, it’s been a long time since I danced.

We know this boogie is for real, now. Like actually real.

Have all these endings become a beginning?
Where’s the tunnel at the end of all this light?
My eyes burn from revelations.
Too much truth, too many dead bodies.
All the lovers who never get to say goodbye.
Some days, I think too hard and fumble for dropped keys
to a door that’s forbidden to enter now.
Some days I wonder if we ever parted,
like the days I wake up like this
with his darkness wrapped around me.
Some days I wonder if our time here’s already up.

I don’t need him to explain himself to me.
When did we become old together?
What remake are we on now?
Time warps and circles the drain;
From my window, I watch the grass grow
to remember what’s still the same.
He flickers like a star in all the frames
of this movie I watch again and again—

and in the windows of his eyes,
a black spider sits quietly weaving
as its web collects orbs of dew:
tears distilled from the atmosphere,
tiny universes he reflects on
from the mist of collective consciousness

He’s the web
but he’s also the spider,
alert to disturbances
awaiting the moment
to stun and capture
bind and devour
and I want that too.

He is silk and venom,
red flame on black armor

and this thread from inside him
almost invisible—

a tender translucence
that breaks when you touch it.

I am alive still, my vitals all normal

but my stomach lurches when I catch his breath
on the breeze.
I know its language,
I’ve learned it has lips and tongues.
He comes to me in waves of silk and fire,
opening all his gardens at once

and if this is all I won from this life,
it would be enough

even if we have to touch from this far.

© Psyche Marks 2020



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