The Autumn leaves of the maple tree
died. Standing at the tired roots, the basement pottery wheel still spinning,
I vulnerably vowed that the red finger with a long nail growing out of your eardrum
sliced the “I” in half and stuck the pieces back together sideways
into an “H,” that you heard something about hell
when I said something about us.
What always changes
doesn’t. Faithful, I parted my lips to release
the substance of things, “You (mis)heard me.”
and you heard everything
but one wor(l)d.
Words are creative fingers that slither
in throats, striving for vomit
or to make all things new,
They are in skulls, nyctinastic,
ready to flick a new Gaia
back into the light, out of three tunnels,
where the power of life and death can rest in peace
You didn’t hear (“It’s not over”)
again. Angry, you were not obligated to listen,
and it was Christian for me to apologize
for your deafness, for lacking a miracle—
out of love.
You thought the fingers were mine, for they were made
in my image. I should have spoken
outside the house we shaped children in
as a stranger, for everyone hears correctly
what matters not. Central,
I should have said that I hated you.
After promises of affection, wondrously,
you would have finally heard
what wasn’t hard to believe
and been free to live
with a sliced extremity floating within.
Now, far apart, I hope that bits don’t grow like maple seeds
or letters that could float in dark, deep, and cerebrospinal waters
and bump-merge in(to) inner speech,
but rather that fragments miraculously become
that which never existed—nothing—
metaphoric parentheses which do not suggest “fill in,”
a hope which can only be desired if
the hope is lost. At the very least,
is it wrong to think (and think and think)
wor(l)ds could be noise?
A finalist for the 2020 UNO Press Lab Prize and 46th Pushcart Nominee, Rose’s creative works appear at The Write Launch, Allegory Ridge, Streetlight Magazine, Ponder Review, Iowa Review online, The William and Mary Review, Assure Press, Toho Journal online, West Trade Review, ellipsis, Poydras Review, O:JA&L, and Broken Pencil.