A Poem For Your Thoughts

For M.I.L.


It’s a nasty habit, I told you,
but kept to myself how charming
your long face grew as you tipped your chin
and inhaled, pursing your lips around
a cigarette as though it were your pen,
its smoke the ink,
each twirl your full-bodied thoughts
and the wind that blew our pasts away.

Even twenty years removed
I could find you by scent in Sion
(the oil of your dark hair, wet clay, cardamom),
know by the way your eyes cut into mine
that, for a moment, my best self
was nursed along inside you.

Belief, whose gift was you,
cast a tender eye toward infatuation
saying, “Fear not, young lovers,
fall bravely into the folds of night
and do not sorrow when at dawn
the sun sears deep into the iris.
For love is blindness even in the brightest light,
but the night is
forever yours
forever young
forever a blink away.”


I dreamed you wore
a garland of brilliant red chili peppers,
a fedora, and John Lennon glasses shaded just so.
You walked like you knew what you were worth,
hands cupping the peppers like so many
women whose love you’ve tasted.

And in the dream I found you, knew what to do
when you bowed to kiss my forehead
your lips like fire searing into my brow.
I lowered your hands to my breasts,
leaned in as though I might pour myself into your mouth,
then plucked the boldest pepper from that wreath
and walked away.

When I looked back
your hands were on fire and you didn’t care.
A smile lit across your face, two lips parting
like a sliced chili pepper and I knew
there would be no going back.

You are bottlenecked into my memory,
that image, those thoughts, that look.
I could find you disguised on the black market,
through dust in the alley, burlap sacks and tent walls,
stray hens and pythons,
baskets of fresh lemons, children without shoes,
and somewhere a thin trail of smoke
rising like a memory
then gone.

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