Listen to audio version:
Last night you balanced a cigarette between two fingers.
Smoke wafted from its burning tip, trembled, danced and disappeared
to thin air. You had your elbow propped on the arm of your chair.
Your wrist was bent, fragile and posed as if it might break
against the slightest force.
An incongruent gesture.
The sculptural permanence of your stilled and quieted hand
with the cigarette smoke, winding, and the rest of you,
falling to pieces.
No one breaks my heart the way you do,
the fragments cut precise like colored tiles
arranged, piece by piece, a mosaic of what it once was.
But the best part, you say, is being in love with you.
And you fall apart again.
Beneath the sheets upon which we are written burns
a fire out of control. I put my hand in it, steady
against the pain, stoking and quenching, as if sheer force
could tame it. But the effort is vast, and the gesture is puny,
and no way will I ever be able to undo the incongruity.
If I could map us and fold the paper just so, we would occupy
intimate positions—not the same space at the same time, but so close
we could feel each other.
I have never been here in this precise location.
I have never been moved, so close to the edge.
The ground trembles beneath our feet. Shifting and eroding
against the elements of our nature, the line between us
parts, grows wider, becomes cavernous. I have never stared
from so high a precipice. Weak-kneed and dizzy, my gaze
fixed on the architectural dimensions, the 3-D reality
of depth perception, I could fall and die from here.
Or I could risk the long, dive to the moving waters below.
Either way, I am here, precisely here, on the verge of becoming
something else. And you are there, precisely there, contemplating
your own tragedy.
Together, we weigh the possibilities for what might be salvaged,
reshaped from loss. Both of us poised,
so close to breaking.
© Ami Mattison
Flickr photo courtesy of igormazic