Sunday, November 1, 2009

Emily Kendal Frey


You did this thing where you'd attempt
to catch the spit I spit out in the shower.
I'd never been that close to anyone.
I felt you wanted even the extra bits
of me. You would cherish my run-off.
Sometimes it was alarming—you kneeling
on the kitchen floor to kiss my hips
as I cooked. The clunky misshape
of adoration. But other times I let
myself be navigated—so what
if you saw my sluff or sorry awkwardness?
There was a time when I thought
you might be able to hold it right.


When you wrote songs
I knew they weren't for me.
You were singing to a woman
who wasn't there.
I'd sit in my white nightgown
like a ghost, watching you.
Eyes rolling back
as you sang,
it was obviously better
than the real thing.
Still, we made it over and over,
me half off the rotting couch
or falling from whatever it was
that held us in place.


Winter softens me.
The snow blues with anti-slip crystals
and I'm too busy keeping warm
to stay angry.
The long rectangles of memory
are shortening and you come more
as you were, in bursts—
tall, antsy, full of vigor.
In the paper there's an article,
a pair of skeletons
unearthed in an embrace.
"We will work
to keep them together,"
officials claim. The final
tragedy of separation:
a body taken, bone by bone
from its resting place.
Mornings after a snowstorm
we'd lie in the bed
made light by the huge amount
of white around us. I'd keep
as still as I could, as if
our imprint were something
we could fortify, take with us
into the world outside.


Early rise, train rider, self left along
the highway, I'm coming! I'm coming!
Show me the salt bays and the women
hanging like birds from clotheslines.

The Work of Beauty Is Not Solitary Work God

and I sit together
by the lake.

Words scrape
at the back of my throat
as the lips of peonies
open to reveal rows
of black ants.

I wish you had not spoken
to me, I say, thinking
of a book I'd read—
one person very near,
one waiting across a river
of glowing trout.

Time slides and tilts,
high clouds squeezed like q-tips
swabbing the sky

as the blue belly of the lake
keeps rising.

The words are mine.

Holy, holy
lower me down.
The rusted anchor
drops its weight.

Holy, holy
drag me down.

Black water
monster, yellow-eyed,
I have teeth.

-all poems previously published at Coconut Poetry 

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