Ars Poetica with a Pick in Your Hand
BY SHIRA ERLICHMAN
When the beans are piping hot & I want to keep them that way
I cover the bowl with a bowl: a perfect circle. I’m not suggesting
our future is inherently round. Rather, anything can be
a roof. Remember when we first saw this place? A hole
in the ceiling while it snowed. We had to scrub the whole place of roach
shit. I painted this room myself & when my right hand went limp, zinging
at the wrist from overuse, you washed every dish, finished whiting the ceiling.
In this way, we keep the steam in. We split the last can of seltzer while outside
strangers threaten to smack each other. I know how that ladder
feels leant up against the stove—a lightbulb has to die
for it to be born. My whole life, I was like that.
Then, your hands.
I serve you garlic-doused beans while the moon nickels
the window & just for a minute, we glow with the purpose
of ordinary things. Four flights down, someone knocks over
a trashcan so it rolls into the street & the bus is
already honking nonstop at a driver double-parked & blocking
the night from happening. You free a dead bulb with a wrist’s twist
& across the block, a stranger’s light flickers on,
their kitchen manifests, a silhouette decides on olive oil
or balsamic or wine, I can’t tell. But the body
of it in their hand is as real
as in mine, so I put the air to good use & run the bathwater
thick as a book for you to bury your bones. Oh,
every shape longs for correspondence, just as each lupine
deserves its hummingbird. Where the world was once
concepts, now it’s a shared tangerine that riddles
our gums with gems. I accept
no other religion. As I write this poem, you rake a comb
against your skull. We
argue the knots awake.