E
Jul/Aug 2001 Poetry

Palimpsest

by Erin Elizabeth


 

Palimpsest

or Having Dinner with Him & You on the Eve of my Birthday

Night is a small circus, perched placidly in a town
outside another, with its Ferris wheel lights, blinking
like lighthouses through the fog. I catch you,
eyes like pendulums, ricocheting off the thin stars
of winter and my hands, trying to be flint across my thigh.
I catch you, gaining speed on the outside and interrupt
my feet, halting movement, pausing, for you, to cautiously
brush against me, your coat catching mine at the sleeve.

I hope now that I have not grown garrulous in dream,
murmuring your name to sheets, to his chest.
That I have not forgotten the pillows in our room,
mistaking them for the green checkered cases
lining your headboard, and somehow, in fire, called him
by your poetry.

Tonight, folding my jacket into fours on the booth,
placing it between you and I like a dam, I try to catch
his hands, falsely reassure him with undulating fingers,
capturing and recapturing his own on the tablecloth.
I readjust the sleeping bud harbored between salt and menu,
trying to catch your foot, your calf, in the sea between table
ledges, but all I can find are ungiving wooden legs
and his feet, firmly snaring my own. Your fork vaults
from fingers to floor, and somehow, still, your hands
do not find my knees, spread casually, quivering
fitfully for your nails grazing their precipitous decline.

There were nights when the city here is like a lamp echoed
in picture frames, is like your eyes, caught in photograph
flashes of lightening, through the September rain, and I wonder
if I will ever be able to fall into anyone's sheets but your own.

 

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