By Clare Flanagan


Forgive me my inaccuracies please it’s only that

I haven’t written about this (let alone felt it) in so long &

I was not expecting it now. I tend

to anticipate the worst such that

I’m never disappointed but then

when nothing changes I keep my chin above water when

the cloudbanks break my toes find

the cool silt floor of the lake and when you

appeared before me I began

to know the depth of all

I’m swimming in. You

in five fathomless shades of black, you

in glasses and low-pulled hats, you far

and incomprehensible shade of

that thing I felt last time the days lengthened

in this way – are you all that

in a different shape,

another epinephrine specter, tall crooked

dance partner for full-moon music? We,

tactless, swimming unsteady circles

around the kitchen – do you see

how I scour cast-iron, chop garlic

and day-old onions? What about

the bruise above

my collarbone, or how I watch, foolish

for you, halfway up the stairs? Let me tell you

what I’ve done and seen

for a minute. I can recite to you

the alphabet of my loneliness, the barefoot

pre-dawn soliloquy, high heels

in one hand, dislocation

in the empty other. Let me tell you all the words

I know for losing –

the one for locked-up quadriceps, salt heart surpassed

on the backstretch, the one

for the dark drive home, the resonant cold, the one

for at least now you know

how it feels, it’s done, spools

of interstate tangled on the floor

between you, but at least you know

what it’s like to be in love. Forgive me

again – I don’t have

a term for that. But if that word

could ever become flesh, it might

be you –

dwelling among us, close and bright

as the moon that forgets waning, you

who existed before me, voice broad and

eyes blue, with whom

I now share a roof, by some

holy accident. I don’t know

who to thank for this, how

to give shape to this yearning. Take

my hand again. Testify, cry out, tell me

stories in your dialect –

speak until I know

your very language.



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