Names. You’ve got this thing with them. The names of plants, rocks, native species. Concrete details have become a favorite pastime.
Vehicles, clouds, chemical compounds.
You file names away in no particular order but know right where they are when you need them. And you will. Need them.
Architecture, muscles, functions.…
. . . you burnt your lip on the coffee mug, distracted by the pretty crow eating french-fries in the parking lot, thrown out by a litterer during a conversation with a potential lover who wanted to impress with callousness, the girl who was only in the car by virtue of a blind date agreement, trusting another’s word, who hadn’t noticed the bird or the fries, her window rolled up since she was chilly, her mother’s advice unheeded as to the need for a sweater for the evening, the lights still on at home, that mother sitting, not really watching the television, wondering if the daughter will do what she did on blind dates, the worry turning to fantasizing about lost years and chances, the husband, separated from the worried wife, prone in a downtown apartment – cars passing loudly along the avenue – intently watching a rented DVD, absently murmuring on the phone with an old girlfriend, that woman, at work in the restaurant on a break where the fries originated, having just dropped some more for the giddy teenagers idling in line at the drive-thru, which is visible from the table where you sat when, instead of being in the moment of coffee and conversational enjoyment, you were entertained by a frolicking bird in the innocent evening sun in a littered parking lot – of which you blamed – mentally – for causing you to burn your lips, which would later tempt me but were ultimately kept at bay due to the pain.…
Thirty-four minutes late & what I want this to be is another breakdown & my imagination burying you while you are singing & gentle to my shoulders. I want to be crazy & for you to be alive forever & if I can manage to change my beliefs before you come home that might just happen.
Thirty-five minutes late & I have confirmed the existence of fire & I have taken small, heroic bites of my own flaming flesh. If I can be wolf enough to remove a limb without removing a limb, then I can sell you on the idea that you being late doesn’t ruin the whole pack of my mind. If I can sit here until the blue car enters the driveway, then nothing overly-human will happen.
Thirty-six minutes late & I have finished cooking dinner twice already. I am lapping the kitchen. I have started oatmeal for your breakfast tomorrow & thrown out that oatmeal, because if you’re already dead, then I don’t want to explain to the children why there is a bowl of oatmeal waiting for you at the table. I want to transition you to their version of Heaven as quickly as possible & mothers in heaven don’t have oatmeal slowly cooling for them in Columbus, Ohio.…
Sex with you feels like survivor’s guilt. What were we but two figures at a bar sharing a gentle kiss and a Molotov Cocktail? I run my hand down your back like a train derailing off its tracks. This exchange of ecstasy will ripple chaos into this city—our city. When your lips touch my skin a trigger is pulled, a body hits the pavement, a splash of blood arcs in streetlamp glow. Two beings like us are not meant to feel passion—at least, not together. Every time we fuck we sacrifice a city block. Let’s call this what it is.…
for Anne Sexton
A boat in the garage, one last sail, one last row. Inside out finished, words through the seam, bedlam in grey and green.
Those matches never blew out the darkness. Never lit the street, never lit the dream. Never dammed the beckoning sea. The vessel. The tethered boat at the edge. Never sealed the fracture, the malacia, the fault between role and creator.
The lapping Charles calls one final, fifth time. Hysteria sets in, welcome in this place, manic in this space, carbon monoxide the elixir. Red cells swim like fish back and forth, at last the awful row.
A boat in the garage, one last sail, one last row. One final, fifth time.
– Ti Sumner
Author’s Note: I wrote “46 Anne” in response to Anne Sexton’s poem “45 Mercy Street.” Peter Gabriel’s song “Mercy Street” also provided inspiration for the poem. …