Tuesday, April 8, 2014

#NPM14: Poems I teach: Thick as Thieves by Emily O'Neill

Because oh God yes.

Thick as Thieves

You fall asleep in the middle of a party.
Not an invitation to most girls, but I buckle
under the weight of stillness. Hover. One stolen
moment given wings. Would’ve been easier keeping
sunlight on my tongue than not touch. You,
Puck spilling flowers into eyes. Call the beginning
apple core. Beneath that beard-softened jaw,
a clutch of teeth. You are still unbruised: what
the snake gave, the one I dream most often, doorway
in my sleep. A dare rises in our throats. I cast a girl off a cliff,
skin the neighbor’s cat, leave my scarf at the bar, handprints
on your car’s hood, fingers hooked in each buttonhole.

The dream shifts—weather strips the tree line, each limb an avenue
of blood. We run though corn on bare city feet, syrup season
long gone, die naked as the branches. You kiss me under
Dickinson’s window—the Amherst spook blushes waxed,
sacred as sin. Only place I still find you naked,
sleep. That cruel tyrant feast: rich, rotting.
Before I can eat, some will spoil. How can I
wrap you in lip like a secret? You change
from a plug of tobacco to a skipping
rock to a handful of seed. The places you’re harbored
spin through me like a zoetrope. You are not a man
but an idea, a flicker. I am a silly young thing
asking after answers. The trees remind me of nothing
when they bloom. We abandon fire like criminals.

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