If I could talk to you now
I would ask why, at thirteen,
you scored the word fuck
on your wrist with the head of a pin;
just sat at your mother’s desk
drawing blood like ink
from your indigo skin.
Was there some grief, an unshakeable panic,
that you needed to mark on your body?
I saw the start of an eternity then:
the pale anaemia giving way
to supple ripples of veins, the loved one lost
in the black tattoo, the dated trace.
Where it all ends, the west wind
shakes the leaves from the topaz trees.
Here, the mild array of feelings relent
in year after year of loss, the something of all somethings
that sheds and fades like a layer.
The vulnerable, fleshy being
that lives inside me, clicks
in the skipping heart, the tapping keys,
the miasma of all these memories;
it lives still, still living
through the scent of flowering lilies,
cold scorch of tonic and gin.
And I would ask myself:
when was it I saw you last;
at what second did you take
your perfected death?
Questions irrelevant, now
that you cannot exist. I think of you
as a face in the mirror, an eyeful of light
from a hankering camera. Ghostlike,
iridescent. I follow you
through the gauze of this golden iris,
the fine-blown shards on the windowsill
where it all deletes, scatters
then cements: in the place
where I make my descent.
[Maria Sledmere +photo credit]