by Benjamin Blackhurst
I. Self-Portrait as an Angel from a Medieval Tableau
Imagine me luminous
of the hour, of the imperfectly blue
mornings. All wing and kindly
skein across evening.
Will you hold me?
If not hold me then,
as phosphorus, burn me
whitely, and quick,
and witness me,
minished and brought low,
pass into smoke
into breathable air.
But give me love,
that wreck of feathers unfurling—glory
of, smattering of—
that love of the ornithologist, who will
trade hunger for sight
of his beloved's scarlet
yes, give me that love,
and I will be a tender
voice and bent body.
II. Self-Portrait, Which is a Kind of Confession
This place we share is warm. The air,
sweet with pollen, sweet; abuzz
with honeyed tongues; clicking
with cicada. The fields tuck their stale
worries somewhere out of sight.
Heady, the sunlight takes
every darkness. Heady, too,
the butterflies rise on lasting heat.
So many singular eyes watching us,
I admit I love you the way butterflies love:
briefly and by touch.
III. Self-Portrait (Being a Troubadour Sounds Nice)
Yoking the human voice
to music, the troubadours knew
what it took to join the disparate.
To devote an entire life to love,
and to the giving of it. Look at us—
you with braided hair and ribbons, me
among the many migrating
birds, in the pale air, the plain
air—trying to love endlessly,
to do what we can't. Let me sing:
here is the softest light,
and nothing on earth could make me
leave you. Even leaving, the troubadours
never stopped praising the pain
of their love. There's forgiveness:
to love what hurts you, to promise
never to stop loving what you'll lose.