For Peter, Bill, Mike, and Michael
You were made out of
cinereal, coriander, and lemon;
sable, cinnamon, and indigo;
bergamot, ginger, and rose. You
spoke like a thesaurus and sounded like
troubadours, da Vinci, broken glass, microchips, and
guitar string nerves, ragged at the edge
and carrying too much current. You
mumbled and sang clarion from rooftops by turns.
All of this has been living in my ears
and in my brain, that attic that
holds everything and lets go of nothing.
I was sixteen when I first found you,
a worn canvas of oils and mandolins
amongst the digital. I was a
computer mind and glass shatter heart,
losing my religion,
stabbing my skin to let demons out,
cracking open my ribcage looking for Judas
whom I’d been told had taken up residence
somewhere between my spleen and heart. I’d been told
that Hell was in the secular music building highways
through my ears and behind my eyes, and that no good girl
would allow the seduction to even begin.
But when they weren’t looking,
I ate the mandolin strings I stole from you and
dreamed in watercolor.
I grew up, fled that town, and found another;
I sat behind a sound board and a microphone
painting the airwaves with my own pigments.
I kept finding you, distilling your rose petals,
and drinking their wine. But the words had fled.
When they came back to me, I started
siphoning the indigo and violet out of my bruises
to write letters in rhyming code that sounded
like your own missives. And I am still
writing them, all full of words like photographs
and wired for sound. I turn them around backwards,
set them in my windshield, and show the world
how streetlights can cast long shadows through memories
and make ghosts return from the dead.
I am thirty-five now, and your soma still rides through my veins
along with lizard poets wearing leather, Irish men leaking
God into their rock-n-roll, and choirgirls playing
pianos. I, a red-haired autistic temptress,
have torn your fables from off my attic walls
and bestowed them to my loved ones as gifts;
given everyone around me your rose wine to drink;
and slid your Even fruit past open lips
with my stained fingers. Though I know that you
will press no more rose wine, I still have vintage in my
cellars – the bottles hang from your stolen mandolin strings
as stained glass promises that catch the light.
When my bowers grow frigid and leaf-strewn,
I will pour that wine in libations over the soil and wait for the roses
to return. And when they do, they will be there
to catch me if I fall.
© 2011 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.
My contribution to We Write Poems this week is this prompt: “All Good Things…”
We experience so many beginnings in our lives…and so many endings. Recently, we’ve learned about the death of Steve Jobs and the breakup of R.E.M., to name a few. Both of these have affected many people across the world, with reactions including sorrow and outpourings of thanks for their contributions. And on a more personal level, good things also end: a job we leave to move on to other things, the loss of a loved one, a son or daughter graduating and moving away…and the list goes on.
So, how do we handle these endings? I propose for this prompt that you write about an ending – either something personal in your own life or a wider cultural event. However, don’t just stop there – look beyond your event into the future towards another beginning. How might your ending pave the way towards something new? What develops in the absence of the place, thing, or life that ended? These are questions you can answer in your poem, in your style, in your idiom.
By the way, this name of this poem is a line from R.E.M.’s song, “Low”.