Gone, the pile
of shut black
water. Gone the thyme
and tang of shallot,
as the garlic
burns in the oil.
They whir when strained:
shhh, let them think
gone. Does a thing remember
its ocean? Brine
what thrill their lives were,
before the ice bath!
before the plastic bag!
In goes the white
wine and the fog
that rises from them
makes them drowsy–
why did I bring
into this kitchen,
in the wake of what struggle
am I to offer or perform
what was happening
in there, in those
so I peeked inside
through the steam,
obsessed with death
but having no desire to die.
THE SPACE BETWEEN TREES
“the trees and the trees and the / space between the trees, swimming in gold.”
Go into the garden and pick the tomatoes.
They’re ripe as a dream. Imagine me naked
making a dinner. Goat cheese, arugula,
fresh strawberries staining Formica. Imagine being
threatened by something so awkward and timid. I am not
naked. I am not brave. The world is never mentioned.
When we are young, we are inside our narratives
climbing trees because we cannot fly. Picking apples
from our fathers’ shoulders. Catching fireflies
in our hands. Open your hands now. Fireflies leaving you
for the air. We hold on to things because
we think proximity to the world makes us a part of it.
Call me from the garden. I want to make sense of it.
Call me from the river. I want to make sense of it–
the clipped phrases, the muttering of words. There’s a house
party going on in the background. Some boy is playing guitar
like he’s the hero. I cut the lemons. I cut the lemons
off-center. Marrakech, pigweed in the gardens of Thasos,
the bartender, the book I gave you with the broken spine.
The word was never mentioned. Stand closer to me,
taste the sauce, I’m making it for you.
For years the entomologist studies the species he loves,
and what he finds is too familiar so he cuts it into pieces.
Farewell body, farewell village, farewell window
with the amaranth flourishing in the morning frost.
I’ll dig a tunnel for you where we can live secretly
away from the light. The tunnel flooding, August storm.
Cicadas crawling up over us to die in the sun. I want to say
the word out loud but I have no voice.
Where is the shovel? Where is the hammer?
We built a garden but we forgot to build ourselves
a cathedral. Light beams in as certain colors.
I want to make a mythology out of the image
in the window. You picking tomatoes.
It always rains on the lover before she dies.
Two figures moving to opposite sides of a map. Look
closer: The map is a garden. The figures begin
as pawns, are revived as Queens.
Now, the moment where it’s no one’s move–
that’s what the poem is, the space between trees,
the landscape of distance, which is a longing,
which is a hunger, which is what makes us
lines on a page reaching from one trunk to the other
but there is no telling between the two.
Only air, only light, only the absence of flesh.
Your heart is so small and delicate. Your heart beams
like citrus. Here are the pores opening. Here are lovers
ripening in a purple sky, the space where there is nothing
between. Face me. Leap into it. The lines blur and we
are not mythology, neither are we love. There,
I said it. Now close your eyes. Leave me
standing in the kitchen, water flooding in from the storm.
Wanting to be extraordinary we made ritual out of our tiny lives.
I’ll tighten the screwtop on the bottle of balsamic.
I’ll leave the knives in the drawer.
There is a myth about love and I read it over
and over. Every night you dispel it
by putting other bodies between us. How
does this end? Do I wash up on a shore covered in green
glass? It was supposed to be harmless, so you act
like it’s harmless. The smell of vanilla and thyme
in the crook of your neck where skin meets hair.
Your harpooned jaw. How we are afraid of the same thing.
It won’t be your body I miss when I’m alone (gunmetal
winds against the French windows)–I left the mollusk shells
on the sill in the kitchen. In South Carolina, you gutted them
and listened inside. It was beautiful to you the way opera is
to your mother, a language you cannot translate
but that you feel more deeply than your own.
Lisa Hiton holds an M.F.A. in poetry from Boston University and an M.Ed. in Arts in Education from Harvard University. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in The Literary Review, The Paris-American, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Linebreak, and The Cortland Review among others. She has received the Esther B Kahn Scholarship from 24Pearl Street at the Fine Arts Work Center and two nominations for the Pushcart Prize.