I cross the street and my skin falls off. Who walks to an abandoned lake? Who abandons lakes? I ask questions to evade personal statements. When you are skinless, you cannot bear to be more vulnerable. With skin, I would say I am in love with Love as in that old-time song crooners like to croon. With skin, I would wear elbow-length opera gloves of pearly satin. Protect my skin. Hide it. There is no skin like my skin. How I miss it — I miss it as I would a knitted bonnet, a pewter teaspoon to stir sugar into hot water. My great passion was my skin. The lover I loved. They don’t sell skin at Wal-Mart. And really, how could I, humanely, buy it? Would you ever give me your skin? This is a terrible world we live in. There are mistakes and batteries littering a junk drawer, where Mother would hide my house keys and Father would store his eyeballs. Do you know Puccini? Do you spill silk at the gorgeous onslaught of love, of Pinkerton’s lurking return? Butterfly had no skin either but you could not tell from the outer left balcony. As I lay in a bed of my dead skin, I dream of Butterfly and what she could have done instead: run away to this little room to lose her aching voice, to listen to the hourly ringing of bells that is really the souring birdsong of a child, skinned and laughing, a child that will never be hers.
One winter I lived north, alone
and effortless, dreaming myself
into the past. Perhaps, I thought,
words could replenish privacy.
Outside, a red bicycle froze
into form, made the world falser
in its white austerity. So much
happens after harvest: the moon
performing novelty: slaughter,
snow. One hour the same
as the next, I held my hands
or held the snow. I was like sculpture,
forgetting or, perhaps, remembering
everything. Red wings in the snow,
red thoughts ablaze in the war
I was having with myself again.
Everything I hate about the world
I hate about myself, even now
writing as if this were a law
of nature. Say there were deer
fleet in the snow, walking out
the cold, and more gingkoes
bare in the beggar’s grove. Say
I was not the only one who saw
or heard the trees, their diffidence
greater than my noise. Perhaps
the future is a tiny flame
I’ll nick from a candle. First, I’m burning.
Then, numb. Why must every winter
grow colder, and more sure?