October 22, 2017

Bathing in the Dark

by Mike Saye

Stuff your shirt under the door
              so not even a tinsel of light
slips through.
                                Turn the water up, hot,
                                    because you’ll be here, because you’ll need something
                                                                                                                                                to parcel out the cold.
Here, where you’re pressed into
the heaviest breath of the heaviest memory, which barely displaces the water,
and your heartbeat, amped by submersion,
is just someone kicking a bag

                and suddenly there’s 1984 or 85 with its indefinite molestation
                and Jessie and the unborn,
                and a dream-pigeon hanging by a bootlace
                in the doorway of a shed –
                the iris-necked, sun-busted disturbance
                that means nothing, but must be passed through –
                and the doglines, where the bad dogs chewed lippy flowers
                from their pups…

This hard water, redolent of red clay,
a ground-smell that wafted up from the floor joists
of a home you no longer belong to,
has wrapped its penny-in-the-mouth
taste around your head like gauze.
                                                                                                        This blind air
                                          pours over your forehead, fills the cavities
                                          of your eyes with inked-out wings.
bathe – as you must – with all the things you’ve lost.
                                                                                                          Go ahead,
meditate the tick of the black mirror
                                                                          that’s cracking against the silence,
                                                                                                      the animal quiet, listening for your whistle,
                                                                                                     will come with a call, will break right through.



Mike Saye is a Ph.D student at Georgia State University. His work has been published in Rattle, Town Creek Poetry, and The Coal Hill Review, among other places.