Exquisite Corpse- Tim Blighton

Not Another Torch Song

 

When I sit down to write poetry, I see you.

 

Every morning, I wake to a fog

receding over a marsh. Over that marsh, a bridge,

rickety as an old man on his way to market,

arcs between last night’s minor catastrophes

of final exams in the nude and the birdsong filtering

into the bedroom. And at the bottom of that bridge,

a cluster of fireflies circle. The space between their bodies

forms your silhouette, your eyes flicker like a distant forest fire

or a torch song.

 

During my afternoons, while writing, the marsh seeps back,

computer buzz becoming cicadae, and I’m stranded

in a place between dreaming and waking,

past and present. Twenty three years ago I met you

at a club, dancing. We traded two months like recipe cards.

Your specialty was pasta al dente with pink sauce and love poetry;

 

mine was a classroom devotion. You

set me at your desk with a notebook and pen

once to see what I could bundle, arrange, cut and water

to fill your apartment. I have not left since.

This isn’t a torch song

where I write poetry proclaiming how much I need you

all these years later, but rather the well I dip from

regularly. I don’t get writer’s block;

I see you

 

reading Khalil Gibran, the Nag Champa mystifying his words

about higher love, its ash forming symbols on the hard wood

floor of your apartment until the haze of sunrise,

 

I see the heave of your chest under a white t-shirt,

the chaffing from grinding blue jeans

to blue jeans on our early dates,

 

your half-smiles at my jokes,

and late at night, our collapse in each other’s arms

only to find a second wind strong enough

to twist and twirl the sheets like spaghetti

until the moon fell from its starry shelf.

 

Yes, when I think of you, something in my chest clicks,

a spring tightens and hours pass.

 

No, this isn’t a torch song; it is your name, the bucket scrape

against the bricked corner before the crash

at the bottom of the well. Marsh

waters have long seeped in, stagnant, but never old.