a single discordant note would throw the entire concerto
of bodies off, and the breath that blew through the wood
might falter. her lips were too dry. she tasted something
reedy and artificial, like a telephone tower masquerading
as a tree. she had often wondered what birds thought
of them, if they tried to make nests in the rigid antennae,
sang mechanical songs to be recorded and put on alarm
clocks. when her fingers slipped, she imagined starlings
falling to their deaths because they could not grip onto
the too-smooth bark. she falls out of time again. she feels
the impatience of the trumpet player next to her.
she envies him for what he can do with only three keys,
remembers how he once blew a serenade over the small
of her back but all she could do was shiver. she shivers now,
drowning in a sea of sharps. the conductor waves his baton
and they play on.
coming upon him, you see the khakis and the crisp green shirt,
the nearly blonde hair and that jaw that he still has to grow
into. it is only when passing him that you see one of his sleeves
hanging loosely, flapping in the breeze, marring that billboard image.
i wonder if he awoke late at night reaching for a glass of water
with that phantom arm, those ghost fingers, if he fell out of bed
clutching that empty space with his other hand. still, i would rather
have an absent arm than an absent heart. i, unlike that boy,
had both hands to try and block out the sight of your hands
sliding down her shoulders and along her waist. i wanted
to stitch you to my side and call you mine, raise my hands
up to the broken tree limbs and have you do the same.
we would have massacred the trees to show them that no
one was really whole. but your absence was more painful
than the absence of any body part. i know now what it is like
to wake up in the middle of the night reaching for something
with a limb that is not there. now, whenever it rains,
i feel a tingling where you once stood.