It’s a sin putting words in the mouths of the dead …
only fools venture where them spirits tread
Jim White, "Static On The Radio"
Close the mouths of the dead. At night, every stroke of the church clock sounds like a call from the living, tugs at the hawsers of ghost ships mooring on the banks of a newly silent heart. What would you do with wispy sails floating across a room? How would you stop that sly coldness seeping into your veins? And those voices, gurgling like a lashing sea, would not cease once the sun rises over fields of sunflowers, their heads bent under the heavy weight of night.
Close the eyes of the dead. Shadowlands lurk behind the fading curtains of each iris. If you look too closely, you will find someone beckoning, deft fingers spelling out endear-ments, promises of sleep. Your lips will curve into a smile sweet as summer rain, a smile staining the floorboards an angry red. No scrubbing can heal these wounds, they'll trip you up again and again. One day you will smash the mirror, cut those blots from the aching wood like stubborn warts.
Fold the hands of the dead. You might be tempted to lay out paper on their breast, ask for a message, a sign. What if you found a pen on the nightstand, inkstains on pale cheeks? Could you explain solemn crosses along the lifeline in their palm, sinister letters on white sheets? You'd sift through static on the radio. You'd coax patterns from shifting sands, listen for pink noise beneath the stars, all for that elusive key. And all the while, time would tick on, without you.
It wasn't me, I wasn't there
I was just watching from over here
("It Wasn't Me", Jenny Lewis)
Maybe I've never woken from last night's
cataclysmic dream. You'd think the moon
has forgotten to wax, the tide never risen
after ebb; this scene cannot be about me:
Three pairs of eyes are watching me as if
I had broken more than one heart, as if I
were not the stranger I claim to be. There,
a crying man; the purple-coated pixie who
flung her heart at me as though her name
were Providence, as though she saw an us
beyond this star-crossed morning; the girl
from the woods, secrets safe in her fists.
I have soaked up silence before, but never
such a sudden surge from the eyes of a girl
whose feet balance just this side of sanity,
who has the mouth of an incognito witch.
Her accusations fall before my feet. Pick
them up and get out, screams her stance.
In dreams, reveal her wayward cheeks, you
wore my scent, and all our letters matched.
I want to tell her I did not come to ridicule
messages written on thin air, that I never
asked for a strand of blue-black hair, and
that I will bury Angie's buckjumping heart
as soon as the sun reaches zenith. I will, if
she shows me where crows gather on winter
afternoons, if she fills my empty palms with
the way her lips almost refuse to whisper Digby.
i've been good all day. angelic.
i've lived up to my name. ignored
all shades of temptation,
avoided words that might leave
tell-tale traces, declared white
my new colour of choice.
i've stopped thinking of my body
as physical, chucked my dirty
mind out with the garbage.
war is the new love.
i make, i don't do it anymore.
my lips are sealed.
on the phone i don't imagine
the tip of your tongue anywhere
except between your teeth,
your hands on the receiver,
fingers unfluttering, like the butterflies
that wouldn't dare stir in my belly.
the line is clogged with stifled
innuendoes, puns that die quietly
in my soap-flavoured mouth.
i stretch for stretching's sake,
and if you asked i'd say moisture
is just another word for precipitation.
after hanging up, bedroom walls
still dripping with your voice, you bet
my hand will barely slip beneath the sheets.