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   i r i s’    b l u e s    f o r    h e r    p a i n t e r

--- J E F F R E Y   E T H A N   L E E

before the words if only— before the world of could be—

there the long sun-beaten grasses drew us far into the fields you reached out for my hair and I was already smiling, turning partly teasing you with your weaknesses running away but not far

you drew my hair in dozens of sketches so many erasures so much charcoal stained your soft fingers till you could trace each curve and angle each hollow and rise where you made the light hold me the grass sheltering us like a cradle—

someday there could be a well for us to draw upon where we could see ourselves held still as if the water could bear our images while all we want disturbs them—

the world sands through my fingers pouring

my body sands away

who throngs my hiddenness my drivenness—

when my lips in your neck sink and you vibrate deeper in holding me harder than I can stand we say nothing will say nothing will forget will never say it when you rub against me accidents open

my hope my loss knowing how it is

mystery repeats itself to those who remember

so i must forget and reap it anyway

what if this world is what we are afraid it is?

now these off-white skies grow hard— winter in the fields of swamp grass bows the brown and umber blades flashing yellow-green like corn silk but sharper shrill

unlike that black-glass flow so utterly still it once mirrored dusk’s slow coming while the slightest wing bent the spreading tops of seeding grasses their stalks more tall than our bodies could ever be

even if we walked across the if that strands between us

and the if that is us

the tawny grass tips brush away the sky

and we are the shadow in a wave rolling so purely the eye aches at its beauty

the charred sky behind the rainbow that is so in the iris’ blues so in a flame

© crossconnect, inc 1995-2004 |
published in association with the |
university of pennsylvania's kelly writers house |