by Meg Reynolds
Nepal Paper, Methyl Cellulose, Hair, Fabric, Glass. Kiki Smith, 1999
As usual, I have lost you. You’ve left me
walking a crooked mile. If I stand
this morning, I’ll spill to the floor.
Who else looks at you? Who combs your snarls
and dodges your teeth? Who listens to your pleas
for milky affection? Who strokes
your brown and leathered head?
You have my eyes, that daunted look.
The red-membrane cape wasn’t meant for this.
I stitched it for the yard, to stitch you
to the yard and lullabies and felted goodnight stories.
O little wolf, did you
have to follow the moon
like a ball bouncing out the door?
Wasn’t our house, choked with ivy
and old time, enough for you?
When I lie on my back at night,
my back is your bare foot,
thick-pricked with thorns. I can’t sleep under your bloody coat,
the red, red loss of you.
How long before you stop unspooling
between tree trunks and make a home with me?
How long before you lacquer me in happiness,
a film of laughter thin on the hardwood?
Come home. I long
to smooth your bent dress.
Isn’t my wanting reason enough?
I have enough of me. You
are the thing worth having, worth
all the bite marks, the unknowable cost.
I’ve left you a brick of chocolate
by the door. Come kiss me goodnight
with that mess on your face.