Hillary Gravendyk

First Minute, After Days

Quarter-light tips in.

A room shaped like a mismatched trio of brackets.

Each bend or angle bristling with other lights.

Drunken or weary.  Lost or left.

In one bracket a chair.  Dark monitor.

Disorder on a blacker field.

Someone’s hands bound loosely down.

Skein of plastic braided into the mouth.

One hand charred black and almost

Black, a color like green.  Wait—Mine.

Then I was lost in a stranger sound.  Quarter-light tips out.

A machine gasps in surprise.

Throat closed by what opens inside it.



Spun sky, unhappy stairway. Stark record of summer: bright, harrowing. But it wasn’t the brink. It was an uneven surface, was a jumble of absences. They waited for me in the sycamore shade.  Violet current, stuttering eye. Watching me disappear by degrees. You pressed my shoulder, held it to the wheel. And I haven’t even told you what I fear most, what’s buried in the flesh. Selfish desire, I kept you like a secret. Wanted what I could get. We built a boat from all this, set it adrift in the tarpaper night.  Mended my skin with barbed-wire.  Covered ourselves in refusal.  I forced your hand into mine, though I knew you couldn’t go where I had to go.