dorothea lange, 1936
why can’t i see the sunspots in your eyes?
they were my favorite imperfection,
and now i find that you’ve sanded your face
down to where i can only see your muscles.
your hands are buried in your pockets
like a shovel in the hard, thirsty soil.
the lines in your weathered face draw
a road map to better days.
the gravel in my throat paves the way
to a chipped tooth and a bad hangover.
i want to grab your cold, pointless hands
and tell you the truth, but i know that
a dust storm is arising between us.
we unearthed the dead grass from our yard.
afterwards, i couldn’t sleep for days.
my lungs were clogged with discourse,
and my voice was in no condition
to sing myself any last lullabies.
fourteen songs in thirty-six minutes
you’re smith, you’re wesson,
you’re the feathers on an arrow.
you’re the pearl handle on your revolver
that glimmers in the sunlight when you shoot
blanks at the kids on your lawn.
your hollow-point fingers leave holes
in me when you touch me like that.
when you take aim, all the kids run
to you for protection. it makes me wonder
how much ammunition you have stored
away for a rainy day.
every time i smile at you, you pull your
hands inside of your sleeve and look
bashful. i know what you’re capable of,
but do you? sometimes i catch you writing
poetry that i can’t comprehend. i worry
about you every time i fall asleep, because
in my dreams, all i hear is gunshots.
i took the hinges off of our door. it left
splinters in my fingers that i’m not sure
i want to remove. maybe they can be my
reminder of you, forever embedded
beneath my skin like a tattoo i (hopefully)
won’t regret when i turn thirty.