Bacopa Literary Review 2016 First Prize in Poetry and Pushcart nominee, Carolyne Wright
"...always going," you taunt, as I gab on the phone
with poets from Napoleon's Bar: your nervous lover
blowing plosives and palatals into the rum-colored
mouthpiece. My face flushed as the season's
Zephyr-cheeks, puffing from the celestial edges
of old maps, trying to scare up a storm.
Our shotgun house lists on its storm-
pilings. "Girl, you carrying on that phone
like there's no tomorrow." That Beulah Baptist edge
to your voice, the plea I miss: blame's lover
fixing the house from the inside, season
of sweat and fragile equity you strip old color
from the sheetrock. Our balance sheet is colored
red, like tempest clouds that terrify a firestorm
survivor. Unsecured debt and the hurricane season
come around again. Get off that phone
and talk to me, you mean. Who else is your lover?
Your unvoiced question with its double edge.
We're tired of living on the edge,
taking our losses up-front. Would the sky's color
change its mind? Could we go on as lovers
as our self-protective gestures--those private storms--
swirl into the vortex of the telephone's
receiver, reverse polarities of the season?
We already lean into another season.
You embrace your own shadow at the room's far edge.
"Take me as I am," I say, and hang up the phone.
Weapons in your concealed history scare me, color
of your skin a risk we share, desire like a summer storm
I almost could have married, if I were a lover
who could smile past your other lovers.
Could I smile now, years too late to give our season
another chance? My leaving you: a freak storm
that gathered its own momentum. Reasons I acknowledge,
debts to each other deferred: memory's colors
don't fade from your voice, on today's blue telephone.
The season bleeds into another decade's color,
millennial storms are on the rise. You're on edge
now, on the phone with me. But who else is your lover?
(Read the origin of this poem here, and more about the sestina form here.)