by Joy Sullivan
like dragonfish to glisten on the surface.
At night, they wrinkle up in the shadows
and whisper across his bare chest.
The first one, a blackened star, names
the time and day he will leave.
I smother it with my palm.
Sometimes, the horse on his right
shoulder blade begins to weep,
says goodbye in a strange language
I translate on the exhale.
There are words too, common as pennies,
scattered about: truth behind the left ear,
tomorrow crawling up his spine.
I hold forever between the soles of my feet.
When he dreams, they begin again,
calling, roiling in the heavy dark,
spitting into the blackness. I claw
at them, anxious as a torn flounder
desperate to drown.
Only the tree that stretches along
his right side never speaks. I trace
the bark between my lips, kiss blessings
across the branches, slender as wrists,
carve our initials with my tongue.
In Autumn, I watch the leaves tremble
like muscles and fall one by one.
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Image modified from Source.
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Where do you get the ideas for your poems?
Inspiration for my poems come typically through an evocative word or image that I experience. Sometimes I’m just in love with a phrase and am then forced to create a poem in which it can live. Most of the time, I just write until something happens.