My first language is you

This is a vignette from my newsletter.


It was late again. (Isn’t it always?)

For the last hour you had been seducing me with tales of Hawaiian sea goddesses and their revenges. You told me to take my clothes off and light a candle. You told me to fill a glass with ice water.

“Take the candle and drip it over your right nipple and watch the wax run down like Pele’s lava to meet the place Namakaokahai had once claimed with her wrath,” you said.

I did.

“Now take the glass of water with the other hand and meet the lava on your sternum,” you said.

I did.

“Do you feel Pele and Namakaokahai at war?”

I stood there naked dripping and hardened at once. The white wax cooled like tea leaves on my skin. Spelling out a prophecy I could never know.

“And that’s why we say that there is no battle like that forged in a woman’s love,” you said.

You seduce me with myths, with physics and history and pantheons. You seduce me with the precision of the known universe and I reply with the limited languages I have — poetry is my second tongue. You are my first.

And so I decide to take Dante’s advice and become a servant to your language. I offer my words to you and my body, both cold and clear as quartz.

Sometimes we must carry our hearts outside of ourselves. Sometimes insulation doesn’t keep us safe. A map is only a map. Even with Google street view, the picture is incomplete. A guess.


I am fathoming you. Your forces, lines, and permutations. I am forging you from dust and crowding your white space.

After dinner, we went to the park and you took your shirt off and I was laying in mud and who cares who cares as long as there is this feverish touch breaking everywhere on my skin?

As long as we are eternity grand and offering.

A man with a rainbow baton spun his own weird little marching band as I dug my toes into the earth, searching for your bones, and what do I remember even except sky and grass and the purest freedom I’ve ever held in my hands?

What did you tell me? Why can’t I write it down like a museum specimen pinned to a board under thick glass? I want to guard you viciously like the gargoyles at Notre Dame.

Then you wanted cocoa with peppermint extract and I said I would make it for you and my eyes were children discovering puddles as we tried to wipe the mud from our jeans.

The night swelled and it took hours to get to Safeway to buy heavy cream and your laughter was a canyon of my name thundering walls and rattling chains.

At midnight we finally made it home and I told you about my worst night in Jamaica and you told me about accidentally drinking hallucinogenic cactus tea and how you couldn’t keep the fish from leaping out of the drawer and how you broke up with your boyfriend because of geometry and everything you say is the most majestic thing I have ever heard.

Your mouth is a mesquite tree bleeding green in winter. Your mouth is a VHS tape I rewind and rewind until its plastic snaps in my teeth. Your mouth slides over my skin the way clouds do to a desert sky.

Your mouth.

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