This is another collision of influences — three exercises and my own thoughts about memory and how it works.
An exercise about exploring a pair of opposites (I chose near and far) and two others about writing a single-sentence poem all generated a few lines, but no coherent poem. During the time I was working on them, I was thinking about how memories link and interconnect in ways that aren’t always clear. I realized then that the three exercises had generated parts of a single poem. It turned out to be a prose poem — not a form I work in often — and indeed a single sentence.
Drew had an amazing ability to inspire poetry in me, as much by who he was as by what he did. No one’s ever found more words in me than he did.
Poetry wants these hills to be sentinels, but they’re lovers — enfolding,
embracing, breast-shaped, parted like thighs, like my thighs as my toes
grip the soil and you kiss me again, then open your palm to reveal four
yellow blossoms plucked from January gorse and warmed to vanilla-sugar
scent by your skin, and I’m jealous of them, and of the rain that the hills
break into sheets the wind snaps over you, leaving your hair streaming
down the back of your neck the way it did in the peaking hurricane as you
pulled three shattered boards off the woodshed, cursed extravagantly as
one was torn from your hands to skip and bounce toward the sea, then
wedged the old bedroom door in their place as even in the storm’s fake
dusk I could see the muscles in your shoulders ripple and turn as you
leaned into your work, drove the door into place with a flurry of thudding
kicks, chocked it with stones, then paused as if to inspect your work, but
instead you reached into the shored-up shed and pulled out a box, damp
but not yet sodden, lifted a corner of the lid to peer inside, then shut it
firmly, sheltered it as best you could with your rain-dripping torso, and ran
inside with it, tucked it in a corner of the porch to wait out the weather in
the hope that we’d free the three butterflies together come spring, and what
I remember most is the gentleness of your hands cradling the shoebox, the
same way they were gentle the night I reached from under the quilt to tap the
lamp alight, knocked my book of Robinson’s poems off the table as I fumbled
to silence my phone by cupping it to my cheek and listening to the man who’d
found my dead cat in a flooded meadow weeping softly and apologizing over
and over as if it were his fault, and you reached over and took my free hand.