Inspired by Kiki Petrosino
The rain and the rain and the wind won't stop.
We cancel our picnic plans to sit on opposite ends
of the couch and Tweet our small arguments to the world –
I have to remind Heidi not to bring the judging home,
the children are not contestants,
her affection not a prize to be earned,
we should all have permanent immunity.
She cocks her eyebrow, says (again, again),
"One day you're in, the next day you're out,"
a joke exactly as funny as the first time she used it.
I answer, as I always do, that that I mate for life,
she won't get out of this marriage so easily
and we both spend some time wondering
about this saltwater we've fallen into.
Her face is on TV selling something neither of us wants.
"Let's go upstairs and fool around," one of us says.
"The kids will be home any minute," the other one says.
Each of us disappears into the other's vague disappointment.
Heidi says, "I brought you something,"
and it's another shirt I hate. At some point
I should be honest about desire
but I cannot put the words in any order
that makes as much sense as the shape that lingers in the air
when she walks into or out of a room.
DUE HIM ILK
Not everything needs to be written –
Heidi's most withering insult.
Written by me, she means.
Even now she waits in our bed
and I cannot bring myself
to go upstairs. The body
is the origin of meaning,
the root of all language.
When I discover a word
that has evolved to mean
its exact opposite
I imagine that word
tattooed on her side –
ink that never spills,
rose that never dulls.
I HUED MILK
Relationships are anagrams of other relationships,
as poems reassemble what was written before –
Heidi understands this before I do. "What are
you writing?" she asks. "Letter to a friend,"
I say, and hide my paper. The weather
has nothing to do with what's happening inside
but it's an easy mistake. Left untouched, flesh cools
to the temperature of the air around us.
Like anything. Heidi knows me better
than I know myself. She is making coffee cake
from a boxed mix, the house
smells of cinnamon and sugar,
artificial preservatives and easy sentiment.
I would rather be fed than asked if I am hungry.
Heidi drinks more wine, tries to explain
the rubber hand illusion. She is supposed to be
at work, taping B roll in the park before the rain
but this is better. She splays her fingers
and asks me to use my imagination.
She has no idea what I dream about.
She pretends I gave her those rings
though we both know better. This mood
is light, easy, a floating balloon.
But I am careful to avoid sudden movements,
not to overcommit. If the flesh is being touched
the mind can ignore anything. "There is no loss
a body can't get used to," Heidi says. "Nothing
we can't live without." She's trying to tell me something
about the importance of feeling. But what I hear
is there's no hammer that won't make us flinch.