As We Work Our Words

In those days, I was apt to read anything slantwise through my throat.

If you said, Belgian Congo, I might hear, medicinal mouth present in the photosynthesis of the cinchona tree.

If you told me, Kiss me, my secret darling, I might hear, Please remove our tongues, two at a time.

If you confided that you love seventeenth-century Japanese erotic art, I might understand it as, I adore you most when, naked on the toilet, you resemble a painting we’ve never been able to quite live.

I know. I’m at it again. Always shuffling—clumsying—the various passages of ourmouths. And how our bodies swell.

Yes, I see how perfect your imperfections and kiss you in the dark to prove it.

Yesterday, I was jostling tumblers in a lock, reciting the scientific names of each species of sparrow in the most northern prefecture in Japan.

When I got to the genus Pull it tight, I did not know if it meant your hand, your bra strap, or the mystical bloom between our mouths.

On the surface of the sun, we all reinvent the multiple ways we might burn our bodies anew, the eternal clock flower and Scorpio’s bite into the crab’s watery deeps.

Much less involved, yet perhaps more compelling, is the fragrance of a galaxy falling apart as we work our words to mean something—anything—almost human, almost nearly divine.