froth & pulse
BY KATERI DAVID
I. Sometimes, blood on fresh snow like an opening. Sometimes, the apartment stairwell back-lit, hallways laid bare for miles, tunneling throat. The woman next door presses her palms to the floor in gold-light, feels for pulses below, comes up empty every time. The dead dogs humming. The rise. Blue movements: telephone static, someone thumbing a bruise. Too much on either end. The glow & pulse of the tongue: my mouth as wide as this room & just as empty.
II. An imagined summer in the foothills, hot breath and sweat. Something that bruises from a distance. Something electric, under-tongued. On the roof, we stared at the sky until the colors swallowed our eyes and the scene went flat and our palms were sent scavenging, waiting to swallow the black. Bones simmer in their own patched space, wider than earth. These nights: I swear I could sink through the carpet. I swear: the sky as my head in whiplash. I think in soft-blows: the backwards melt, white tennis shoes burn soft as snow, rot like teeth. Boxes of yellow puppies. What I lost when I didn’t look at you. Coney Island summer, the burn of the teeth. And the day swollen with light, the strawberry patch, every wound after the first was a reminder, sky broken-back and faltering. How there was no grave marker for where I first burned.
III. You walk into my dreams in marrow light. A sky froths and stutters over children skating on a frozen pond, spits up ravens that curl and shrink. When we were children, a sled crashed into an oak and blood spilled cotton-soft. Words shatter this type of lightness. But in this dream, it is my body splayed over the ice, palms sacrificing themselves to the sky, an empty threaded pulse. You walk past me and my eyes cloud until I’m blinded and the scene repeats.
In the years afterward, people will stand here without hurting and never know.