BY WILLIAM FARGASON
Another dream of you, fig leaf. The same almost every night: I’m naked. And cold. Underbrush, thorn brambles, pine trees, hanging moss, the mist of early morning streaming all the green veins. Beneath the canopy, I lose my sense of direction. I thirst for no one, fig leaf, but you. But you’re too difficult to find. Your branches don’t bend like they used to. I take sinew and a bone needle, sew you to you. But you don’t hold together. You never hold, and I have to start again:— here, the fig leaf; here, the covering with the fig leaf. The Lord made me naked but I don’t want to be the way the Lord made me. My eyes have been opened. I know good and evil and you are good. For the first time in years, I’m ready to live the rest of my life. But it has gotten harder to hide. I’m naked and afraid. I need your covering, fig leaf. I need you to hold me, as your branch held you, forever in future tense. Don’t leave me alone with the Lord. Because I can’t take you with me. I’m awake. I awoke. I still wake up each morning. Cold and afraid. Kicking off the sheets.
Collage of memories that forms a box
BY WILLIAM FARGASON
after Joseph Cornell
I forgot the things I kept: the ball dropping on New Year’s, the diesel trucks humming the name of a sad old love song my grandmother played me once but now I can’t remember how it goes... circling the city for an hour looking for a parking spot, your body spread out across polyester bed sheets, a footprint in the mud that says Hey, I’m up ahead, I’ll meet you there, the birthday cake with your name spelled wrong, the vanilla candles you smell in the store but don’t buy, the largemouth bass we released into your swimming pool that died an hour later because we didn’t know it couldn’t breathe chlorine, the furniture we assembled together on the living room carpet, the fertilizer tossed in the backyard that caught the light like tiny emeralds, the bus with empty seats but still we both had to stand, the woman who took down our order wrong but we ate it anyway, you taking the first bite, you tripping on the cobblestone street, the tape you pulled off the cassette spools, the suitcases that took years to unpack, a yoga mat tucked under your arm, the chum bag dragged behind the boat to draw fish to our bait, to whisper Come closer, it’s safe. Once the pine trees grew tall enough, we cut a trail, walked barely under their branches, the bed of pine needles soft under our feet, the machete sheath bouncing against my thigh. And the year we planted the seedlings, each a foot long:— pulled one from a tarp bundle, pressed it into the soil, your hand covering then uncovering. And that time walking you home in the first snow, the wine bottle you grabbed when you said it was your turn, the DC zoo in mid-summer when none of the lions would come out from their plaster rock caves, box after cardboard box of your things I carried and loaded into your trunk when it was space you wanted, the flatbread you rolled up and dipped in olive oil, said Here, try this. Your bed we had to push against the window overlooking the street—its intersection we could barely see, its light playing off the wet asphalt— because the air-conditioning was broken and it was too hot upstairs. That was one I kept. The forgotten staircase, the forgotten box hidden underneath one of the forgotten stairs in the staircase, you prying up the stair with a hammer, pulling out the cigar box I hid when I was a child—filled with bottle caps, plastic coins, baseball cards, a water gun. Let’s make a new map. Let’s put the box back, but pick a new stair, one we’ll both remember, one I won’t forget. I’ll let you pick: the ocean still cold in April, the red bird flying into his reflection on my kitchen window and doing it again, the bike you bought me that I never rode, the rock ledge you jumped into the lake from because you knew there were no rocks underwater that you couldn’t see from above, the letterbox on my front door, the sidewalk covered in salt, all that I was waiting for, the letterbox on my front door.