Is It Enough That I Came Back?

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The boat had torches, and I lit the the soaked cloth with convenient flame and floated on water clogged with movie images I was living, but not living. I came back. I came back too late to catch the end of the short French film. Was it worth it? Was it everything to find the broken treasures on the stairs to nowhere only to have to come back to earth for floods and lunch meat? There were pathways to the water and secret stairwells from which I could see the world and its end unfold. We celebrated what was left of the minutes, the wet waves, the light filtering through the rustling leaves, until we almost walked across the miles together. There were invisible hands that held us aloft when the air sunk and the water rose too high, we rose with it and watched the other boats drift with flickering lanterns into a blurry imagined horizon.

You saw Paris ahead of us and I saw swamp sucking the light down into mud whorls. People mired on the banks, looking for beacons reminds me of tailored wool coats and whiskey. Of fragile winters and atomic bombs, banks littered with bones. I touch your cheek, just as I always do, to make you look at yourself through me, and you see the struggle as though it’s new. You see yourself through this hazel light bristling with the dark of the shredded edges of the world. The place everything stops, the boats drift nowhere, the cups are empty, the torches dim to useless moth-blind pools of memory.

Then there’s this peal of life that rings down on the silence so loud I mistake it for death, this sorrow of mine screams so loud and grabs me by the spleen until I’m bleeding out in my sleep. Just another night of bleeding out in my sleep.

I can’t care about sex when there is this breath leaning into me, this weight spreading through my muscle, this anvil cutting across my thoughts not unlike the swath of retribution, of punishment for things I was never ashamed of but think back on now with the pitchfork raised against the slightest hint of everything you revile. But it’s only for you. Without you I live innocent, I live blamelessly when there isn’t you to answer to. When you aren’t the horizon rising with the water to swallow every slight deviation of light.

I am the boat, I am the torch, I am the choked river.

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