Disclaimer

I was a kink in the leitmotif: he wanted
to shed a heavy chest and so subconsciously
he left me like his rain jacket on the flight
from Columbus to Los Angeles. Most guests
forgot their reading glasses. I was lighter
than memory then, and fuller than weakness.
I drove to smaller towns in higher country,
the names resounding like dying words
of hopeless romantics. Mariposas, Sanoras,
Merceds. I could walk their dumb streets
in warm clouds of red azalea and bay laurel
at midnight because I heard everyone there
knew everyone else. White eaves and moons
remind me how it felt to cut my fingernails.
I gather how easy it is to call someone
a monster or a ghost. When he opens doors
and finds not exactly what it is that he was
looking for, I grow fine and slightly deeper.
I don’t prefer this. I don’t look forward to it
either. Imagine a loaded junk drawer open
wide as nights over houses, like nights do
over castles. This is feudal. My dear friend
Ludwig lined halls of his stronghold built
for Wagner in the Alps, in the fallen foothills
of Bavaria, with masterpieces. He named it
Swanstone and died holding his psychiatrist
in a slough of waist-deep water. I linger
on stills of Alexandria, last suppers, subjects
I gather dream with heads instead of feet,
where the shadow was attached. Neither one
has fluid in his lungs. My signature is never
called a river. I’ve grown too broad to be
another flood, too clear to be the city’s limits.

 

Volume 12.1 - June 2019

Recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize as well as Writing in the Wild and Port Townsend Writers' Conference fellowships, E. A. Greenwell was the 2016-2017 PEN Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Resident. His work has appeared in Boston Review, Terrain.org, Poet Lore, and Iron Horse Literary Magazine among many magazines and journals. He lives in Oregon, where he works with private landowners, Indian tribes, NGOs, and government entities to conserve land.