~after Bob Hicok
Imagine a horizon stained with blood,
clothes still warm from the dryer
unfolded and heaped in piles,
a holocaust of time traveling selves
happening every minute without smoke.
Your husband’s pale face a knuckle
on the fist of a ghost, working
at words like a wad of chewing gum.
You remember the ferris wheel
at the Barren County fair, those yellow lights
rimming conjoined ladders that spun
a galaxy of wants in your ribcage, his stubble
rubbing your chin raw. His smile
a haunted piano that played you songs,
now a crumbling chimney of teeth
set to grinding aspirin into dust.
Once he plucked a lily from the hillside
and threaded it behind your ear,
months before he turned you into a smurf,
palming packs of Sudafed from the pharmacy.
You’d find the bathroom door closed,
the acrid odor of flame against foil,
cooking something akin to torment,
a fish hook on each eyelid, pulling.
Before he pawned your mother’s rings,
before his skin seeped with ammonia,
he liked to warm his hand between your thighs,
to surprise you with ice on your neck.
There were nights you’d sit and watch
the bats swoop in and out of the lamplight,
and you’d feel like the bat, the moth, the light,
the blanket of pseudophedrine sweat
clinging to his skin like dew. He would promise
to change and you would believe he could,
the way a child believes reindeer can fly,
that stars contain the whispers of wishes.
But there you were, finding your infant boy
asleep on the floor, dried milk vomit
crusted to his chest, his body quivering
with naked cold, indiscernible rock music
blaring from the bedroom, door closed.
The night felt like hammer, heavy on one side,
a train whistle blowing without end,
a coffin you’d been burying with your hands.