Each song is a slice of you, I know,
each one a skinless surface that weeps.
I can hear you along your grain; the ring
you grow each year to steady your heart.
We can date the various qualities of gold
by the many shades of your severed flesh.
Every chrome-eyed poem you throw over the side
of your life’s boat is a gasping fish, a sea creature
born on land that must be cast away to find its life.
They hit the water glowing. The further they get
from you, the brighter they shine. Parental,
you hack bits of yourself off and throw in after them.
Your pains you organize into paintings, glaze
the greens of every year with sweat and semi-gloss light.
Your arms’ force spreads on every surface.
They call them brushstrokes, but that’s too sweet
a word. They’re gunshots; dagger thrusts; choke-holds;
machine-gun fire. Burning arrows shot over black walls.
Speak the speech: when you speak, my heartbeat
shoots into thin air: you are emotional cardio.
Your body stands in for mine when you let the story
slay you: you are lower-case substitutionary
atonement. I want to be nailed up beside you
and rise again together with the house lights.
All the labourers of love in the field, the field white
with multi-chambered hearts. They make the muscle work:
systole, diastole, all our life-sustaining ins and outs.
No matter how many times they cut up the heart,
there’s a certain kind of cell that keeps on beating.
Even when left alone in its test tube, it pulses.
When two or three of these cells meet, their rhythms
become one. They organize the others against chaos;
deliver blood and oxygen; we need them all.
Without these cells beating, beating, our poor hearts stop.