from “Please Bury Me in This”

Now my neighbor through the wall playing piano, I imagine, with her eyes closed.

When she stops playing, she disappears.

I am still waiting for the right words to explain myself to you.

When there was nothing left to smoke, I drew on my lips with a pen until they were black.

Or is this what it means to be empty: to make no sound?

I pressed my mouth to the wall until I’d made a small gray ring.

Or maybe emptiness is a form of listening.

Maybe I am just listening.
 

More by Allison Benis White

from Please Bury Me in This

Maybe my arms lifted as a woman lowers a dress over my head.

This is not what I want to tell you.

Looking at red flowers on her mother’s dress as she sat on her lap on a train is Woolf’s first memory.

Then the sound of waves behind a yellow shade, of being alive as ecstasy.

Maybe her mind, as I read, lowering over my mind.

Maybe looking down, as I sit on the floor, at the book inside the diamond of my legs.

Even briefly, to love with someone else’s mind.

Moving my lips as I read the waves breaking, one, two, one, two, and sending a splash of water over the beach.

What I want to tell you is ecstasy.

from Please Bury Me in This [Looking up in the dark I thought..."]

Looking up in the dark I thought, Tell me something you’ve never told anyone.

I tried in the closet but the rope broke.

Maybe the relief of conversation, of something almost happening.

The way in the morning, lying on the floor, the light through the blinds cuts my face.

Less than hope: wishing.

How sugar became snow, poured over wet glue on a cardboard roof.

I remember the paper house, hung from a cage hook in my room, swaying.

Not fonder, not fonder—the heart grows stranger.

from Please Bury Me in This [I am not any closer...]

I am not any closer to saying what I mean.

Love has made itself so quiet, a few red fish moving in slow circles.

I want to say like blood, like forgiveness, this obedience, looking at the ground on my knees.

I mean to cease to feel, to cancel, to give up all claim to—

At some point, I rested my hands over my eyes and mouthed, This is my face housed underwater.

This is a love letter.

Every word but mouthed erased.

Related Poems

Obscurity and Elegance

Whether or not the park was safe

she was going in. A study concluded, for a park

to be successful there had to be women.

The man next to the monument must have broken

away from her. Perhaps years

before. That the bond had been carnal is obvious.

He said he was just out clearing his head.

They followed the walk of pollarded pears. His tone

distant but not disinterested. It was

an expensive suit, she could tell by the cut.

His face blocked by the felted hat. The cocked night

studded with satellites. Women

were known not to enter a park

if they smelled urine. They passed under the arch

together. At this point, he allowed, it

would be fine by him if he could sit at his desk

and watch his writing happen.