We leave our words out overnight. In a treehouse, in songs, we let them sing. Closer, we say and we stay, knee-scraped. We smell like shag rug and wood. I say lonely’s coming round back to take me, take tonight rest between contractions and wade in blue of flames, part the hottest route to the bottom of this wet loose heart.
I imagine our bodies when rain hits a fire, a cackle then tantrum, burning stones. I listen to the beep of a car’s warning, spot dirty socks under the couch, a Santa’s sack, there’s Christmas. Her husband’s back home tomorrow, my kid will be hungry. But we stay, until there’s no more words to cross out where we’ve been.
We’re fully alive ripped down to bone, the ache of awake in a quiet world. She believes in black walnuts for breakfast and I know every little dragon waiting to be fed. I say eyes closed. No-one’ll starve. There’s love in the corner, drinking from the can.
I say I can always do danger. It’s safety I still don’t understand. I’m told I smile when I speak this, as if I’m back home living off my junk — longing, yearning — and I don’t know the difference between the words until she grabs the air with one arm, then two.
She burns water over all blue, lets out the cat and leaves me alone in the kitchen to name a glass half-empty, jars drained, her stained kettle a rusted sun, the heart of a warm room
I can never keep clean. Winter again has me elbows in for anywhere she stretches home-
made pasta across the screen like a line in the sand:
how she lives in marriage/how I take what I get
how I sweep every word to another night in the back booth of a diner, where we drink from the bottom of the coffee pot, toast two hands in the pickle plate. We’ll land in place and eat until our bellies flop. I’ll always say when there’s food on her face. But here she’s needle to skin, sewing pockets between toes; that’s how far her secrets go, that’s how far I follow. Here the moon serves light by the slice and best friends are still girls under the covers, promising whatever we feel will only hurt for a minute.
Dani Blackman received an MFA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her work has most recently appeared in Fractured Lit, Bellingham Review, Epiphany, and elsewhere. She teaches composition and creative writing at North Seattle College.
Photography by: Miguel Vaz