I wear a bar-merchandise t-shirt, my father’s, that falls about mid-thigh and smells so softly of summer. I am glad my childhood summer nights smell like my father’s sweat, softening on thin worn fabric. There are worse things. My own sweat, too familiar to be noticed, might smell the same as this premature warm twilight. It might linger, like a growing-up-aftershock after I leave home. Maybe I will smell like my father’s arms long after I am old, and maybe I will never know. The sweat-unnoticed shimmers on the highgrounds of my face, greasy cheekbones looking made-up and sparkly. There are such beautiful things.
I pull my hair back and up into a ponytail. My hair is spring-soft and winter-long, slickened by humidity and stretched by time. By mid-August there will be streaks of almost-blonde, streaks like the ones my mother gets, from hours in the garden. I brush wisps of hair down from the sleekness and let them fall like loose ringlets around my hairline. They make me think of Pride and Prejudice. The same spring soft hair stares back from a million oil paintings of aristocracy. In museums, brush strokes frame the faces of the long dead, and the just like me, and the prideful, and the prejudiced. There is a cast of gentleness over tonight, a quietness, and a sureness. A youngness and a deadness that cannot be without each other. Here am I, with my hair of chipping history. Soft, and tired, and so much like my mother. Here am I.
Looking at myself in the mirror tonight, listening to the fan blow my sister to bed, I do not feel like poetry. I don’t think poetry wears borrowed cotton, or thinks that it is beautiful. Poetry doesn’t die. Tonight I am prose wrapped up in my mother’s sheets, prose that goes quickly, in bare feet. Prose that rhymes by accident, and does not apologise, and uses, too many, commas. Prose that runs on. And on.
The skylight above my parents’ bed is opened a crack to let in the stagnant night. The occasional breeze. The great rush! as lonely cars head somewhere. In another somewhere, down the street, someone plays music, and for no reason at all, an odd backyard firework announces May seventeenth. Sizzle boom! Against the darkness, the glass of the window is a Claude glass mirror, black and curved, reflecting my own face in the space between my eyes and the sky. Without my glasses the reflection is as blurred and smoothed as the city surrounding, a world so silky that I wonder if it’s real. Unwrinkled is the sky. Goodnight, says prose to poetry, but in all it’s lyricism, the fluid night sky face above has no words. Goodnight, says prose to poetry.