Dirge

by Rachel Godin

I was a striking knot of a woman, lost but won. 
I pressed my skull deep into my hands 
beneath the spinning mobile of dogmas 
grinning down at me from the pitted ceiling.

Like many of our kind tend to prefer, 
I learned early enough to pocket my own virginal realities,
marry only them and tie them monogamously around 
my ring finger — a solid round of perfect truths.

I was the empty cubes of the grid table, 
the red wire, 
the ugly onomonopia of the confessional door, 
the author who maims and disfigures, 
the body of a hated creation, 
the abused vertebrae on the cold metal bed.

I shredded their maps; 
not all who are mapless are lost. 
I folded their footnotes, cut them 
into snowflakes, built a great canopy of them 
and sat underneath with a 
match and a bottle of grape.

The raw things back then were not so hard to find. 
I didn’t have to sort through my thoughts for 
one crisp petal of an honest word. 
Things sifted down to their basic structure with a movement of a hand.
Ebb and flow was constant and completely internal.

The need hadn’t acquainted itself with my curiosity. 
I built it up less because it still called for concrete definition. 
Expectations had not been settled, 
my hand had not been dealt. 

Nodding off, I sent myself back into the past. 
Passed sparkling cities, nude beaches where wet bodies sat to burn, 
past portraits of former definitions of golden. Framed pictures 
of Sunday morning dances to Neil Young with scorching bevs. 
I had those moments memorized like the first chapter in John. 

My mind understands chemistry and creates a syncopated strip 
of miniscule Polaroid film as important as my actual DNA. 
It sustains me, does it not? 
Memories fray like an American flag living on a pick-up’s antennae.

Take me back to times when I drank up every last drop of you 
and everything you said was gold. Because we are here now and 
I have seen the dark things; the tangled doll and the button by the door, 
the estranged personality and the velvet crutch that comes delivered on a silver chain.
Now I pick out the pretty words in what you say and let 
them maintain the ideal of you I once had. It is wholly my power to let you believe I am not 
different, 
that I am clean, that the bruise on my skin was made by your fingers. 
I’ve sworn with myself up and down, roaded permanent trails on the floor
where I’ve paced away nights which serve as proof. 

You skipped right over falling to your knees and decided just to lie down and take it.
You were ebullient once; opulent. You wholly deserved such adjectives. 
I don’t have the words for you. 
But I know that they are spoken, 
quite hushed, in close proximity to my heart.

Let us talk of imaginary things and see through stained glass. 
Break their windows and see through ones we made. 
Hark the heralds, Hark the heralds, 
your words don’t sing anymore.