Survey the demolishing current, then in response feed the muscular fabric of love hand over hand far reach skeins that silk the terrain and therein we don’t get anxious to own each other any longer I just want to drive and talk all night and feel this landscape breathe in my overswell
I’m so nostalgic for the grayshot time we could walk body through veil the time death was no prerequisite for getting down / under the tipped up starry bowl in the grass or sand bowl in the hollow of the sea god’s iliac crest I won’t lie back / won’t lie / I’m comforted by the tactile embrace love’s ripped arm about my shoulder a spell against feelings against my own ambition slingshot straight up into the night to Orion’s cool scowl kiss not / don’t kiss me now if you don’t like it I’ve had your tongue in mine a deal to pass the night companionable no inquiry all query the quarry deep maw of someone / else
my bull-faced tender friend palms / in his minotaur palm his great bowl of a grasp his own heart big and throbbing a set piece I take it on the tongue I take it despite heft I / muscle / beating muscle word-seeking muscle vast muscle forged in a cold room by witch-poor persons by no one really / muscle that grew wild in the field and loose in the road according only to its own fibrous longing / I take it / hot on the tongue and mouth around the curse more beauty more brutality and swallow what I can I’ll take it / back with me the road from desert to sea that everyone must travel that only a few of us walk in reverse I want / to drive it blazing but I follow rigor and walk its ruts and witness each unlike life unfolding not just forward and back but also infinite weft to even more infinite warp what am I doing here pausing by the gates to there I’m still / I’m still required here
lift my skirt my back pressed into fast iron gates my skin heated by abandon / abandoned lovers lost things press me / press me deeply into the moment before I have to return to / living at the edge of the road with my hand extended to travelers offer and clutch I cannot hold fast / enough lovers enough daughters enough of law and sacrifice nothing gets done in the sympathetic dark tonight instead put me in love’s big arm and incant like you mean it friends tell me / tell me we have lived far enough over / it’s safe to loose my heart on you tell me / this love is different from previous loves because now we’re all dying / a dirge one sings to herself a demeter is up early at the door she doesn’t want to come in she wants to know if it’s really the hour of living and what we’ll do at dark with all that salt the weeping leaves on the bodies our bodies salt for lovers and salt for wounds I can’t bear / another wound / so say nothing / just pulse beside me pulse inside me my pulse ebbing against my need I don’t / need you to feel this / same coordinate I need you to spell it out I need to recite the spell of your names and to recite my lover’s names to give
men and gods the same number to reach me to spell my name out in the bowl’s bonefresh
gully I press / press my bruise to / Orion’s cold lip he / heals me not and hurts me not / and knotted up against his thigh I am / crossing into the orbit of beauty’s least known form
lift my body that wears the young cow’s hide and rides like youth and gives light jobs high on the / rise above the inn the guests can’t see me if they don’t look back and they don’t / look there what am I doing with shade beauty hanging out by myself wondering how my tongue got so stained with feeling / I saw my tender friends assembled on a blue screen I saw numbers accumulate in spells and promises not grand promises nothing that protects me from / this belief
that every day must include / pain / nothing / the white memory wiping through the present moment gone static gone still in the rush of huntblood / I hear / a wave / will crash tonight / the heavens a wave of starjunk and haters come down the back of Orion’s soft neck my throat too lifted / what could I do but offer you things / what could you do but / refuse me I’m spiral and filled with needles the dark needles that knit the night her angsty skirt that knit your tongue to mine when you fall too long silent I won’t / open my mouth to set you free nor close my teeth to / I resolve to sit so very still back to throne back to thigh back to pulsing muscle as though I don’t hear you I hear you I just want to drive now
Danielle Pafunda is author of nine books including the recent Beshrew (Dusie Press), The Book of Scab (Ricochet Editions), and The Dead Girls Speak in Unison (Bloof Books). She teaches at Rochester Institute of Technology.
Photograph is from performance by Leif Holmstrand.