Hester L. Furey
We have no word
for what we are to each other.
There is no writer’s pentimento,
no name for the echoing ghosts who
vanish mid-tale, diminished by our fearful glances
as they try to follow us from the underworld. A thin,
tasteless, dried-and-rehydrated version
of it appears in their porn.
Anxiety of influence doesn’t cover it.
But don’t be sorry. I’m not.
I have kept your charming words
tucked away all these years,
hoarded like an illegal currency,
a heretic’s credo, a talisman
kept against the day the need for such magic should arise.
I revered you as an oracle,
so honored by your friendship,
I held back a little, out of respect.
As my body changed from one to three
and the hands of destiny reached out
from the future to claim me,
you made a redaction, a storied excision
that made my courtly love absurd
and everything I said wrong.
When I came back
you had moved in with the teacher,
and become somehow resentful.
You told me your husband said
Mila was a lesbian,
and I knew you meant me.
Now I’m stuck in the back of some drawer,
a discarded detail like the poem that for some reason
you deleted, or never published:
“they talked me down. I could not speak.
The taste of You was in my
Let’s pretend you are a shepherd.
I follow you obediently, like a goat,
so it seems, never losing breath,
but really because I am a river god’s daughter,
well-versed in flowing among rocks.
We climb this granite outcrop
through buzzing clouds of coreopsis
and turn and look out across our city,
both of us wary and guarded,
living in the long shadow of old stories
that will outlive and not remember us.
Trained by both Cybele and Apollo,
I frame words carefully, wishing
never to harm you, though I have
always known you were a prince
in hiding from a judgment, a fate:
we don’t have to revisit the wounds
of that ancient couple on Mount Ida.
This time you’re mine.
Psyche and Cupid
In these long silences
often I must settle
for the sight of his handsome face
beamed in from the ether, somewhere
in the world where I am not.
Or in the same way, lacking
the conversation that I crave,
the body that sets me humming
and makes me so clumsy
I can’t stand up, the electronic muse
consoles me, fills the room with him,
the hair-raising, tenderizing sounds
of the incredibly strong, sexy hands
on some instrument that is not me.
What I like best is immediate –
his hair in my hands, to inhale him, our bodies
entangled, the way neither wants to let go.
Darkness and silence are not themselves, then.
But he is a rare, elusive creature,
a shedder of skins,
and worse, another man who belongs
to the community, not to me.
So I must learn to see him
like the divine being he is, in all things,
and in this way keep him,
mediate and proxied, yes,
but with me always.
And find someone else
for the long daylight hours
when doubt and reason gnaw at me
and only a man of flesh will do.