The house is always a new house,
and the language is rarely my own.
Even when I choose to speak,
I am unready.


Your fruits,
your stones,
the stones of your fruit,
your ruined forests,
the forests of your ruin—
your desolation,
your spindly horses,
your wind,
your windows,
your pickled roots,
your improbable strawberries,
your bread stretched thin—
your bloody knuckles,
your empty fountains,
your modest mountains,
your abandoned tires,
the remnants of your patience,
the traffic of your grief—


I find myself in good health.
I find myself en route.
I find myself impatient.
I find myself in a city continually razed to the ground.
I find myself in the basement bathroom of a glass-paneled shopping mall.
I find myself unable to tolerate even the idea of forgetting
how you put your hands all over my face,
how with all the skin of your hands you touch
all the skin of my face, like air.
I find myself without a language here.

I find myself galled by the unevenness of the sidewalk between
what we do and do not do.
And where.

And how we stumble there.

And where are you?
In which of the countless absurdities of intimacy,
by which I mean geography,
memory, airports, and air,
are you?


The stripped hills
arch, exhale into where
the roads are going—

the sky wills them
closer, but will refuse
to let them in.

The roads are thin,
tense remainders, scratched
as by a nail on skin,

as if to say,
later you will still remember
what I have done to you.


Who are you that licks the salt from your fingers in the neighbor’s house?
Who are you that sleeps through the gunshots?
Who are you that refuses to translate what you spell on my back?
Who are you that weeps while swearing at the policeman?
Who are you that lets me leave the table with the rice still burning in the pan
between us?


Your brooms,
your bleach,
your stubborn roofs,
your squalling cats,
the wild swerve of your gentleness,
your generous contempt—
your scarves, your sweat,
the endless, dusty detours of your regret—
your sandstorms of longing,

your weary fires,
your metal pipes, your swollen figs,
your reddened eyes,
your insistence on being the first to go, or the last to stay—
your garbage pits, your pastry shells,
your laughter,
your faith’s unfiltered cigarette—
your midnight funerals,
your raging trucks, your rage,
your breath when you sleep,
your teeth on my neck,
your masks,
your lust—


We find ourselves making love, suddenly, having just been on the verge of doing something else, like going to the laundromat. Soon I find myself teetering on the edge of
some precipice, at a great height, already shivering from what it will be like to arrive at
the bottom—finding myself almost already shattered on impact, the shock
already shock, the pain already pain, the joy already joy—and, trembling on the tiptoes of my breath, I
find myself weeping, my face close to your face, your face suddenly resembling mine in
bafflement only, begging you, almost demanding,
“How do I join you?”


The house is always a new house,
and the curtains remain unhung,
and I sleep honestly, murkily, waking often
and without any intuition of my distance
from the ocean or the car crash on the freeway,
from the army base or the orchards,
from anywhere cleaner or more devastated
or more drenched with bougainvillea
or more clogged with clouds than here.
Slowly, it all returns to me: walls, corners,
the huddle of shoes, a clumsy painting,
the anchor of my hips, the placid crater left
by my skull when I sit upright.
I always stay where I am.


All the talk is the talk of the broken world,
but is it not perilously whole,
the rupture barely held at bay?:

the young men contorted and curled around
the rungs of the heaving bus,
the laden shelves, the pregnant planes,
the pavement only a way to thicken the skin
of the thing, the thing,
the earring a mere adornment of the barrier,
the graffiti simply a remark about the stone,
the meniscus of the milk trying only
to imitate the pan as it gets hotter on the stove.

Where is the end?
What will it take for the surfaces to soften?
For the edges to fracture?
Will you be of any help to me?

We drink from the lip of the bottle,
spill foam in a negligible film across the table,
shift against the wicker of the chairs,
touch knees as our bones wait
in their warm denim sheaths.

The lemons,
sliced across their bellies
and arranged in a little bowl,
are the only proper violation of this long day.


Your hands on my face,
all the skin of your hands on all the skin of my face, like air.
Your rusted cars,
your shouted dreams,
your uniforms,
your burning trash,
your almond sweets,
your dust.
Your trust.
Your paling knees

and calloused feet.
Your knives,
your veins,

your barricades.
Your mint,
your tea,
your weed with all the windows shut,
your shuttered eyes,
your poisoned dogs,
your pomegranates and their jewels
pulped into juice.
The shudder of your coming
like another kind of loss subsumed,
another kind
of unshared,
momentary grace.


By Robin Myers