Friday, June 24, 2016

for Orlando

I never look away
from the needle, never flinch
at the moment of cold, the smell
and the brash cheerfulness
of the woman who slips herself skillfully into my vein.

take this part of me, I think
take it all -
I am being selfish. They are trying to survive, so
I go on.

death is too close to me; I am partway
gone already. The world of smiling people    sunlight     pain
and pleasure: alien
The earth recedes from my feet
and I step and step and step and wonder
if this is walking.

I set aside your names, because I could not bear them yet but I knew you - enough - enough to walk
hollow-eyed and stumbling through days that were lifetimes
long and too short:
you should have had lifetimes. I go on.

When I read your names, I thought
I should have learned Spanish -
sideways guilt, asymmetric shame.

It was never supposed to be you.

What did I struggle for, why did I bleed into
all our hope?
Ice runs in my veins. I think
take my blood, all of it, all my life.
I could not make you safe.

I go on.