I can’t recall why. Or when I bought
Hippocrates’ Epidemics. I was on
a tangent that should have taken me east
of Athens to Perinthos on the Sea of Marmara.
To get there, I would have to stop over
in Crannon. About Crannon, I know
nothing, which is basically how I’ve
always traveled. Floundering from
country to country. Blind to where I was going.
After Italy, why not Hungary?
I passed the time surrounded by
Soviet architecture. Buildings
stripped of ornament uniformly at war
with old world charm. My host, a woman
and her boy. He didn’t walk, couldn’t feed
himself. His silence. Her patience.
I felt oddly blessed and cursed. Lightning.
I’ve been struck more than once. Spinoza’s
famous question: What can a body do?
Bite my tongue. The toll it takes
to come back from the dead.
On the phone, I hear my partner offer
his sympathies. There’s been a significant
uptick in requests for advance directives.
The neighbors left for Charlotte a week
after the schools closed. To read the mail,
we put on gloves. The house reeks of chlorine.
We’re still under orders to hunker down.
For how long, no one knows.
When this is over, I hope to visit Perinthos,
a hanging cliff-town in Turkey, overlooking
a luminous sea, harboring every
ounce of light the heavens will spare.
When sleep up and leaves
like a bad break-up,
I move in and out
of thoughts as if switching
between subway cars—
interiors sprayed wild
with pieces and tags,
signatures from the underground.
You are also a work of art:
Latin cross, broken heart,
ball & chain branded on your arms.
Boldly, I showed you where a razor
sliced my cheek as a child, remembering
my mother holding a bloody towel
to my face. I was two, maybe three.
That scar, a perfect convergence
of her art and frustrations.
I’ve seen what aspiring to artistic greatness
does to the body. The damage.
On your back, I draw with my fingers.
We did that a lot, lying in bed, playing
word games—and slept. Our weekends,
hours in hibernation.
Now we kiss goodnight and close
the doors to different rooms.
The bed is strewn with magazines.
The mattress treats me as an unwanted guest.
The window looks on with indifference.
They call the riskiest places to tag “heaven spots.”
If sleep were only kinder, I’d think less—
and leave the past, with its untimely
arrangements, behind in some far-off distance.