3/6/12

J. A. Tyler

from When We Hold Our Hands


WHEN OUR HOUSE BECOMES A BOAT

When our house becomes a boat and dislodges from the shore and floats out on an ocean that is all the words we have ever used with each other, there we will find the curses. There we will see in its waves the way it rips our roof off, there we will see all the means by which we have faulted one another. The white is the swearing and the rest is seaweed tied to our ankles and unnoticeable until it drags our mouths under the water and we are no longer able to use them, our hands or these words that flood our plains, this house that becomes our home and then becomes our boat, this language that is riptides behind us and swooping back in our tread, ready to extinguish our fire.


WHEN OUR HOUSE BECOMES A BOAT

When our house becomes a boat we will wonder what happened to all the time that we said we had and all the things that we claimed we were going to do. There was always this and that in our way and we shed the deadlines to hold the things that mattered less. I was not holding your hand and you were not holding mine and there was a sun coming up everyday that we said would be different, would affect our bodies and make us change, and when the sun rose we yawned and rolled our eyes and nothing was different, nothing was changed, until the waters up and overcame us.


WHEN OUR HOUSE BECOMES A BOAT

When our house becomes a boat there will be all the canned goods lining the shelves and in the pitch of our movements the food will roll our hallways and clunk down the stairs and make its way out the front door. We will have left it open to go and see if this morning, unlike other mornings, the sky will not be red. The old adage is provable here and we will be clinging to the door jamb with our fingernails and our grip hoping today, unlike all the other days, not to discover red, to see instead blue or grey or even a hinted range of orange that we will convince ourselves is not in fact red but is a lighter-hearted way of approaching all of this sea before us and behind.


WHEN OUR HOUSE BECOMES A BOAT

When our house becomes a boat we will find the sails stuffed up and out of the way in our chimney and will unfurl them from the shingles beneath our feet and climb in through the open window to sleep on the bed that is for us sometimes a fort and sometimes a porch and sometimes a dragon and sometimes a horse. And when our house becomes a boat that will be a day when the bed is just a bed and I will curl in your arms and you will curl in mine and the wind rifting through the white cloth will make a sound out that window like the world is finally at end and everyone is seeing the beauty. We will fall asleep there, drifting in our arms, the waves going warm and thick, the air constant, the sound a lullaby we hear humming in our hearts.


WHEN OUR HOUSE BECOMES A BOAT

When our house becomes a boat there will be a moment at least where we wish it was still a house, our house, and we long for it to be still anchored to the trees and doused in tulip beds. We will be thinking back you and me to when the house didn’t shift at night and we didn’t launch quietly from our beds and we didn’t crack our ribs on the side paneling and sputter out like engines drowning. We will remember what it was like to smell dirt and to walk sure-footed and to hold our hands up to the sky and not see anything swaying except the leaves in the trees that are still out our windows because our house, in our minds, when we think back to all of this before, is still a house on a world not made of water.


WHEN OUR HOUSE BECOMES A BOAT

When our house becomes a boat we will have to be trained on all of the safety measures that will now concern us: the watching for a bird especially that when it dawns will be the bird showing us that land has returned. We flooded our own place by smashing out all this language with our knuckled mouths and our teeth, all the chips and dents and cracks that attest to the battered language. Between you and me have been all the words that ever existed and when I pointed at your shoulders you questioned me with yours and I went ahead anyway and you followed sheepishly and watching the sky for birds. Out here, where the water has become solitude and the crashing a means of keeping time, our faces have developed a quiet, and the house that became a boat will be the boat that also becomes a tomb, a grave for us to die in, the water washing our stones smooth, changing rocks to pebbles, and light to thin veils of remembering.


WHEN OUR HOUSE BECOMES A BOAT

When our house becomes a boat the lands we leave behind will be either like you or like me. If the lands are like me they will crumble and fall apart in heaving sobs of pieces and probably splinter into the water that we are riding and raise the levels as we float. If instead the lands that we leave behind follow in the ways of you they will grow and unbind from themselves and each piece that separates will become an island and each piece that remains will lodge to the piece next to it and will form a joined and distinct place where everything will thrive and the need to use words will be obsolete, everything known and voraciously moving forward without, the silence a groping wondrous instant.


WHEN OUR HOUSE BECOMES A BOAT

When our house becomes a boat we will stalk over its planks searching out the last of the food and waiting for birds. We will be watching the sky but at night we will only be watching for things that will finally and perhaps distract us from our distance to one another and the shape of our arms and how when we hold onto the arms that are you and me together it is nearly impossible to tell them apart. We are us. There is here a long list of things that we would like to find in these sea stars that we stare up at but when the boat springs a leak and our house begins to sink the sky itself will be the only thing left to keep us from being only and in total darkness, here on our house that is turned boat, our boat that has sunk, our water-logged ears and our pruned hands, the reflection of water in our eyes.


WHEN OUR HOUSE BECOMES A BOAT

When our house becomes a boat we will sail.


J. A. Tyler’s When We Hold Our Hands is forthcoming from Dark Sky Books.

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