This is how I begin
with a hawk and a branch and the snow
everything silent but
my body settling
into itself, a book
turning closed, all air gone.
My lungs hang in my center
two summer peaches swollen
in the sun, roped to my heart
aching apple at the center of me.
I remember your ear
on my chest, saying there’s no
distinct beginning– this is how I begin
in the middle with your lips paused
around a word you’re still searching for.
Your eyes are so wide the night sky fits inside. I want to keep this moment here, a map folded in my breast pocket. You ask where we’re going, and I reach for it but come back with a fist full of Atlantic sand, the salt of dried tears leaving pale footprints on my wrist. You accept it with open palms; I fill them with sand and a dead starfish curled under from the sun. You hold her to your ear and cry and all I can say is I’m sorry without knowing why or if I’m telling you the truth–
This sorry sticks in my throat sweet and thick as honey, bees rising in my chest, thousands of legs and wings drumming against my rib cage. I open my mouth, tell them–Go! but they’ve been here so long they’ve forgotten the sky. I feel the humming slow, wings settling, resting and complacent. I want to scream at them–tell them they’re stupid–Can’t you see you’re trapped!
You appear in front of me with your arms wide and open, tell me I can fit anywhere, but I’m backing up before I can whisper your name, the whole ocean behind me crashing and hungry. This is how it began, the only life I can remember, my father’s breath on my shoulder, a song with no words unfolding itself onto my skin. I open my eyes again and am alone, nothing but snow piled around me, the ocean frozen and still, one wave frosted with foam still nesting at my ankles, a white crab quiet like a ghost or a shadow perching at my side, watching the sky as it fills with birds, black silhouettes against pale space, circling and silent.
I breathe it all in, try to feel full and still and cold, but there’s no more room. The fruits in my chest are rotting, the bees hollow corpses falling to my stomach, your name unspoken and thick in my gut. I want to reach for the chasms where your feet were a moment ago, but my arms are too heavy. I close my eyes and wait.
I remember your ear
on my chest