after “july poem” by keaton st. james
i. in the space behind
i watched the world
hearth; july took me
and lit sundown
when i opened
the restive leaves
under the afternoon
turn to red bruise.
touch, the eddied
by the hands
up my every breath.
my eyes, i found
turned blue with
her silhouette smoke,
a counterpoint in green.
ii. if only the cool water casting caustics.
if only the light piercing down to her eyes.
if only i could break the water’s surface
and swim up to her, summer sticky on her wrist,
how the sun tries to make a home in her teeth
as she smiles and holds a towel up to me,
the ceramic shore, the water running down
my shoulders like it can’t forget her hands.
iii. mama wanted a girl and she got one.
mama wanted early morning light and endless clouds,
but she got me instead. the midday aftermath folded
down into blunt teeth, a spit-bitten swallow; i didn’t know
how to tell her what was hiding in that piece of mist.
july, though, july’s pried my jaw open and licked
the rust from my gums, the divots of my tongue,
and she knows. oh, what she knows.
iv. in the bedroom, i soothe the kettle burn on july’s
arm with toothpaste. she pulls me down into the sheets,
these long centuries of approaching, covers my ear with
the crook of her arm and asks me for nothing.
july and i string lullabies for the sunbeams
dripping down the glass like rain, counting the thunderstorms,
the weeks stretched over us in stirred breeze. tired, scrubbed down,
the turn still waking in the distance, i press july’s knuckles
to my lips and learn again what it means to breathe.
v. hand around my waist, july dips me
gentle as a monsoon, spins
a eulogy for my ghost in the garden.
i feel my own resting pulse
under my feet. the soil, the flowers,
the lamplight in her hair.
under our breaths, i whisper:
i am alive. i am alive. i am alive.