FLOOD continued

I remember your darkly woven poetry;
your saturated tapestry
of overlapping stories.  They left you
in the rain, bleeding
blood so purple you imagined
you must be some kind of alien.  Isolated.
Set apart.  Alone.
I wanted to join you.
I wanted to save you;
but that story had ended
long before I dipped my finger into the stream
of your consciousness.  You imagined
you must be some kind of angel,
meant to save me; but your wings couldn't hold
any more tears or supplication.
They had been eroded by time's
sad passage.  The gaunt blades
of your shoulders remained.  The fragile hinges
of your ribcage.  I remember you claimed
inside that cage was an intricate ring
that would only fit my finger.

I remember your promise
of silver extracted.

When was your promise detracted?

When did the treasure hunt
become a laborious wading
through the contents of your chest?
Squelching sounds of viscous mud;
splintered branches and gray sky spitting
torrents of acid rain.  My voice
drowned out.  You couldn't see me clearly
until an illuminated streak fissured the dark.
My hands and feet were obscured in mud
and you didn't even try to pull me out.

I wished the acid rain would melt you inside.
I wished the lightning would tattoo your chest
and mark my point of entry.
I wished you would expose yourself to me
one more time.

"With a kiss, I pass the key
and feel your tongue teasing and receiving.
With your spit still on my lips,
you hit the water."

                        Kate Bush, from "Houdini"


Sometimes I pretend my tongue is a key;
my words can pick the lock.
Like Houdini, pulling off an intricate trick;
but I wouldn't stop
with the hinges unlinked.  I'd break in
to your chest, plumb its depths.
I'd extricate the obstacles and trinkets.
I'd magically snake my fingers around your heart;
seize my prize.  The silver ring
you said I could wear and I don't care
if you tell me it no longer fits.
I know how to twist things
just as well as you do.
I know how to claim things
to fill the empty space -
you were just another escape
art accessory.

Maybe I'd plumb your chest
then leave you to sink.
Maybe I'd drop the stolen ring
into a grating
or gray envelope
-- the closest we'll ever get to another kiss.
Maybe I'd lock the pilfered silver
in a metal vault;
heave it into an unsuspecting body
of water.  Can you still control the flow?
Can you still create the flood that overcomes
everything in its course?
Can you still summon dark water
to creep into my dreams?
Do you even feel anything
when you see my stripped limbs
float away?

Maybe I'd swallow the ring.

I know Houdini drowned.
I know I can't magically untie the knots
of your hair, entangling my fingers,
leaving imprints of the missing ring.

The fading texture
of a handful of hair
is my only souvenir.
Split ends.  Fragments
pulled out of the air
like a dark magician's scarf
in the final act of an unsuccessful stage show.
I couldn't pull a smooth swath of silk from your mouth;
you kept choking.
I couldn't make silver quarters appear from your ears;
you couldn't hear my prompts.

Your attempted levitation was a joke;
the body kept sinking, would not float.
It's time to unhinge the trick lid
and saw you in half, flood the stage;
place the silver quarters over your eyelids,

but you disappeared before I could end the show
with a transmuting kiss;
a metallic gulp.  A reprisal.

"The punishment is not
drowning but another terror - the body transfixed
in water, held still in the bath."
                                Nicole Cooley


In your dream, you were trapped
in a small, dark space
and I crept closer
with my hands behind my back.
You thought I was hiding a pair of scissors
and I wanted to
pierce you, drain you
of your power.
Without those locks to counterbalance
the weight in your chest,
you would sink
into your own flood.

In my dream, I just wanted to hold your head down
long enough
for the silver ring to float out of your mouth,
onto my finger.

In my dream, my hands are empty;
tied behind my back.  I can't seem to sever
the knots so I just keep walking;
waiting for the water to envelop me.