9/10/13

Sarah Jean Alexander

HARD CENTER


If you see a person everyday for many years,

you won't notice when they begin to develop

wrinkles, and suddenly there is a canyon running

through each of her cheeks and when you kiss

them your lips won't find the deepness foreign

as flesh presses against softer flesh even though

your skulls are closer together now than they

were forty years ago. Older skin has its up sides.

I think one of the most important is that there

are no surprises. If you plan for your future,

it will never happen. If you close your eyes and

focus on your lights and blacks, you can breathe

yourself a new lung and it will be the same as God

pushing apart the heavy clouds and blowing

warm air on the top of your head, smiling onto

your crown and whispering, "Easy, easy, easy."

If you are very tired of life, just stop. And if you

love someone, why can't you just tell them, "Look

at me, I love you, Please stay with me, I love you,

Please don't go," and then maybe that person won't.

I mean, when a person is not touching me, I miss them.

I mean, there are so many things I am doing when

she is not around that I won't remember when I am

eighty years old and she is still not around. I mean,

look at my face and tell me how it makes you feel.

I mean, I mean it, all of it. Even if we wanted to,

we couldn't pack our suitcase and walk out the back

door. We are always holding the hands of too many

secrets and we are in the hard center of our lives.

The fish tanks would algae over and the cichlids

would be forced to daydream towards nothing,

slowly regressing to the dark parts of the glass box

until tiny bodies lined the sealed corners of the tank

from bottom to top, sleepless fish with half-dead eyes,

their creepiness reaching me on the spot, even now.

The newspapers would stack on the porch in an

embarrassing bricking against the front door,

the neighbors put off by our complete disregard

for the lack of aesthetic uniformity of our house plotted

in-between theirs. They would think, "How rude,"

and talk about us behind our backs and between

the lines of thin painted fences. Anyway the zipper

on the suitcase is broken and you said to me,

"Trash bags are only for trash," so the fish are

still alive and the paper is let inside one by one

and when the neighbors talk we pretend not to hear.

I look up and see a butterfly stuck in the air. I think

it is flying against a soft wind but it really does look

stuck in the middle of the space above my head,

trying to move and not moving at all, and

when I think of you this is what I see except

when I think of you, you are sitting at a desk.

If you see a person everyday it is like they are

standing very still.


Sarah Jean Alexander edits Parlor, an online magazine for exquisite corpse poetry. She is the poetry editor of Shabby Doll House and has work published at Hobart, Spork, Pangur Ban Party, Thought Catalog, Pop Serial, Keep This Bag Away From Children and HOUSEFIRE. Sarah Jean lives in Brooklyn with her orange cat.

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