The day I finally hallucinate we’re at M’s studio in Venice –
before I get married and she moves to the East Side, before I tell her
my lusty secrets better kept to nights in a solitary bed.
The room is crowded, five of us draped on the futon, on the floor,
not much of her prized cross-breeze coming through the kitchen windows
to the screen door. Hot and still, like a museum and we all sit around
looking at each other waiting for a profound thought to ignite
in our heads, twist through our limp bodies.
Looking to make SoCal sense of it I escape to the patio,
stare at the neighbor’s stucco wall, and will color, the carnival I was promised,
to burst out of the ridges. But what reveals itself: a map
some ghost is taking the time to scrawl, a trail I can’t quite follow, the geography
of laughter spilling over the wall from the party next door.
Or a line drawn from here to where the cool water begins –
I could take M with me and watch the soft chill roll up her arms
when she eases herself in.
I know the map is there, if I could trace it across the rough beige, but it disappears
as I find it, brightness circles my vision, the heat evaporates the fresh ink,
twists the warmth of breath into the smoke of M’s cigarette – a wispy
Virginia Slim. She’s come to tell me someone’s trip’s turned bad,
and when she disappears inside I follow – not ready for our sad winding
down, a mumbled New Year’s toast, her cold eyes in the bar,
the last morning I’ll wake up to the sun and new lines in her face.