Unmarked

Tim Seibles
                      for Natalie

So much like sequins
the sunlight on this river.
Something like that kiss—
 
remember?
Fourth of July, with the moon
down early	the air moved
 
as if it were thinking,
as if it had begun
to understand
 
how hard it is 
to feel at home
in the world,
 
but that night
she found a place
just above your shoulder
 
and pressed her lips
there. Soft rain
 
had called off the fireworks:
the sky was quiet, but
back on Earth
 
two boys cruised by on bikes
trying out bad words. You turned
to reach her mouth,
 
at last, with yours	after weeks
of long walks, talking
 
about former loves
gone awry—
 
how the soul finally
falls down
 
and gets up alone
once more
 
finding the city strange,
the streets unmarked.

Every time you meet someone
it’s hard not to wonder
 
who they’ve been—one story
breaking so much
 
into the next: memory
engraves its hesitations—
 
but that night
you found yourself
unafraid. Do you remember
 
what the wind told the trees
about her brown hair?—
how the cool dark turned around:
 
that first kiss,
long as a river.
 
Didn’t it seem like you already loved her?
 
Off the sidewalk: a small pond,
the tall cattails, all those sleepy koi
 
coloring the water.

More by Tim Seibles

Ode to My Hands

Five-legged pocket spiders, knuckled
starfish, grabbers of forks, why
do I forget that you love me:
your willingness to button my shirts,
tie my shoes—even scratch my head!
which throbs like a traffic jam, each thought
leaning on its horn. I see you

waiting anyplace always 
at the ends of my arms—for the doctor,
for the movie to begin, for 
freedom—so silent, such 
patience! testing the world
with your bold myopia: faithful,
ready to reach out at my 
softest suggestion, to fly up 
like two birds when I speak, two 
brown thrashers brandishing verbs
like twigs in your beaks, lifting 
my speech the way pepper springs 
the tongue from slumber. O! 

If only they knew the unrestrained 
innocence of your intentions, 
each finger a cappella, singing
a song that rings like rain
before it falls—that never falls!
Such harmony: the bass thumb, the
pinkie's soprano, the three tenors
in between: kind quintet x 2
rowing my heart like a little boat
upon whose wooden seat I sit
strummed by Sorrow. Or maybe 

I misread you completely
and you are dreaming a tangerine, one
particular hot tamale, a fabulous
banana! to peel suggestively,
like thigh-high stockings: grinning
as only hands can grin 
down the legs—caramel, cocoa, 
black-bean black, vanilla—such lubricious 
dimensions, such public secrets!
Women sailing the streets 
with God's breath at their backs. 
Think of it! No! Yes:
let my brain sweat, make my 
veins whimper: without you, my five-hearted 
fiends, my five-headed hydras, what 
of my mischievous history? The possibilities
suddenly impossible—feelings 
not felt, rememberings un-
remembered—all the touches 
untouched: the gallant strain 

of a pilfered ant, tiny muscles 
flexed with fight, the gritty 
sidewalk slapped after a slip, the pulled 
weed, the plucked flower—a buttercup! 
held beneath Dawn's chin—the purest kiss,
the caught grasshopper's kick, honey,
chalk, charcoal, the solos teased
from guitar. Once, I played 
viola for a year and never stopped

to thank you—my two angry sisters, 
my two hungry men—but you knew
I just wanted to know
what the strings would say 
concerning my soul, my whelming
solipsism: this perpetual solstice
where one + one = everything
and two hands teach a dawdler
the palpable alchemy
of an unreasonable world. 

Zombie Blues Villanelle

There are days I believe there ain' nothing to fear
I perk up for green lights, my engine on call
But it could be the zombies are already near

That sleep that we feed every day of the year
What's up with your friends when they circle the mall?
There are nights when I think I have no one to fear

My Mom watches Oprah to brighten the drear
You can keep your eyes open, see nothing at all
But it might be the zombies are already near

You think life is s'posed to be lived in this gear?
I been askin' that question till my brain has gone raw
Certain days I believed I had nothing to fear

I have dreams that I'm driving with no way to steer
You can growl like a cello; you can chat like a doll
Don't it seem like the zombies are already here?

I think fear itself is a whole lot to fear
I have watched CNN till it made my skin crawl
I might be a zombie that's already here

I been pounding this door but don' nobody hear
You can drink till you think that you're seven feet tall
There were midnights I danced without nothin' to fear

You can fly through your days until time is a smear
Maybe blaze up the bong   or blog out a blog

There'll be days when it feels like there's nothing to fear
But you could be a zombie    that's already here.

Faith

Picture a city
and the survivors: from their
windows, some scream. Others
walk the aftermath: blood
and still more blood coming
from the mouth of a girl.

This is the same movie
playing all over
the world: starring everybody
who ends up where the action
is: lights, cameras, close-ups—that
used to be somebody's leg.

Let's stop talking
about God. Try to shut-up
about heaven: some of our friends
who should be alive       are no longer alive.
Moment by moment death moves
and memory doesn't remember,

not for long: even today—even
having said
this, even knowing that
someone is stealing
our lives—I still
had lunch.

Tell the truth. If you can.
Does it matter     who they were,
the bodies in the rubble: could it matter

that the girl was conceived by two people
buried in each other's arms, believing
completely in the world between them?

The commanders are ready. The gunners
go everywhere. Almost all of them
believe in God. But somebody should

hold a note     for the Earth,
a few words for whatever being

human     could mean
beneath the forgotten sky:

some day one night,
when the city lights go out for good,

you won't believe how many stars

Related Poems

Einstein Defining Special Relativity

INSERT SHOT: Einstein’s notebook 1905—DAY 1: a theory that is based on two postulates (a) that the speed of light in all inertial frames is constant, independent of the source or observer. As in, the speed of light emitted from the truth is the same as that of a lie coming from the lamp of a face aglow with trust, and (b) the laws of physics are not changed in all inertial systems, which leads to the equivalence of mass and energy and of change in mass, dimension, and time; with increased velocity, space is compressed in the direction of the motion and time slows down. As when I look at Mileva, it’s as if I’ve been in a space ship traveling as close to the speed of light as possible, and when I return, years later, I’m younger than when I began the journey, but she’s grown older, less patient. Even a small amount of mass can be converted into enormous amounts of energy: I’ll whisper her name in her ear, and the blood flows like a mallet running across vibes. But another woman shoots me a flirting glance, and what was inseparable is now cleaved in two.