by Robert Okaji
1. The Long Night
We envy the shadow its attributes, its willingness to subside,
but what of its flesh?
I lay in the field and wept.
Think of the fragrance, the moist leaves
enveloping the still
warm body. In retrospect, I realize that I should never have left, that air
returns to voided space despite all attempts to disavow
light, that wind and rain and soil alike filter through the chest’s
cavity, that stones may bear one’s touch in perpetuity.
At nineteen, death gifted nothing to my world.
At twenty, little else remained.
So close, so lovely.
2. The Loneliness of Shadows
Light collapsing around a point. The two-headed flower.
In my dreams, no one speaks.
Not the thing itself, the bud bursting forth, petals ablaze with color,
but rather change: the process reinforced.
Sleep seldom shows such kindness.
Or its fruit, redolent of sun and rain, withdrawn and shriveled,
and finally, ingested.
Yesterday I woke damp but unafraid.
Stones never talk, but they rise from the earth, appearing as if by invitation.
The way silence lines an unfilled
grave, which is to say as below
so above, an infinite murmur open to the night.
And other notions: transpiration.
Sublimation. Calcination and burning.
At times I have withdrawn
like water from the air’s
body, fearful yet reckless in the act.
That evening the moon flickered and the shadows lay at our feet,
and all the words we never framed,
the bitters our tongues could not know, the wasted
music and abandoned caresses, those words,
sighed into the ground, leaving you adrift, alone.
But how else might one transform darkness to light?
Or the reverse.