I’ve never told a whole story
in one arm-length sheet
the way some can.
In hours drawn across glass
the floorboards are the loose lips
that expose my coming and going.
If my hand stayed in
it was for the sake of another
who opened her eyes
one night the firmament rang
& the shrapnel of stars, full-throated,
sang out in all the languages.
With her there were no acid tears,
only anger turned inward
then out – a lightning tongue – and relish
of the world’s buffooneries.
Every tale was a sleeve
that could be lengthened or shortened
right on the dressmaker’s dummy,
cuffs added, buttons sewn or severed.
They were not always the ones
I wanted to hear
but sounded dense and deep
as Russian bells.