Under the Curtains
Remember your sister’s refrigerator.
Remember it had a photo of your niece stuck
to it. We drank your sister’s expensive carrot
juice and you said, You look like my niece.
But she was 6 and we were 25. She had
blond curly locks, and mine were brown.
None of this had to do with the fact that you
looked like a combination of all of my
uncles, especially the one who knew about
constellations and collective dreaming
because he listened to talk radio at midnight
when everything was allowed to get
mysterious. And how is it that years later we
ended up here? My pants down, the crown
of my head against the baseboard and under
the curtains, yours hidden in my fleshy
thighs. We were never to do this again, we
promised once: we are not 25 anymore, we
are not in America. We don’t rip the belly
out of the night like we used to and toss it to
the subway tracks. We speak two languages
now. We don’t own anything yet, but we’d
like to. Remember back then when the blue
trees in Texas looked like a painting against
the night sky. Remember when their bark
held my back while you tore at my front.
Sometimes I think we’re simply re-enacting
that night in new scenarios. Then I give and
you take, like the night sky lets the day
disappear all the stars. I think all of this has
to do with the mysteries of midnight,
because we can’t fall to our knees in
subways, drunk on European blood. Instead
we settle for rug burn, where the baseboards
are always clean.
There is a cup crying out to be filled with the dried oils
that paint the room so starkly.
There is a sky praying to be knocked upon, voyaging so close
to bowing heads in the airport park, teasing arms with
the notion that to reach out and touch it is to Hail,
to die big and blessedly simple on the outside of the earth.
There comes death, disguised as light,
seeping through the slim horizon at the bottom of the door,
thickening to massacre the dark stillness of the room
with full white motion.
She has known her dead, felt them since childhood,
resting her head against the glass pane in the backseat,
reading her singing lips in the reflection,
rushing through a cottony storm of the shavings of stars,
that cups the coal black highway as an overturned container
losing its liquid.
There is a frail thing in a movie theater, tapping you on the
shoulder to tell you it’s dying
when you turn around in the glow of the projector,
to see it smiling and cupping handfuls of dried stems,
just before it does.
Melanie Sevcenko is a poet and journalist in radio, print and online. She has reported for Al Jazeera English, BBC World Service, CBC Radio, Deutsche Welle, GlobalPost, Marketplace, Monocle, the Northwest News Network, NPR, Pacific Standard and the Toronto Star, amongst others. Her poetry and short fiction has been published in several literary publications, including Cleaver Magazine, apt, newleaf, The Fourth River, Sojourn, BlazeVOX, and Nexus. Melanie’s poetry chapbook, We Slept in Body Bags, Just in Case, was published in 2014 by Finishing Line Press and has been nominated for the Mass Book Awards. For more, visit msevcenko.wordpress.com.