This time I begin with my life story:
The version where nobody suffers
Too much from one of my
Fool-hearted mistakes. For the record:
I began wrong-headed. Bad boys,
Translucent dreams, a stolen lipstick.
The year after my mother took
A lover, my brother and I
Climbed and held secret
Meetings in the attic.
Red-lipped lighthouse keepers
Talking Cockney. We flashed
Beams from the window.
The next year I had my face
Slapped for saying “cunt” in front of
Company, and “lezzie” at the table.
It was like watching a fire—
Room by room the curtains catch. A blaze.
Even the forsythia whips guarding
The house lashed out.
And we were landlocked with
The maudlin cello music, lewd cats
Crying into the small hours.
Changed of heart.
I have learned little of pastorals—
The blue turn of the water, a
Twilight barking of dogs, the way
The past might appear innocent because
Poetics play fast and loose, like
A car careening down a back country road.
On the phone my brother admits that
Sometimes he is still transfixed by the
Light. The way someone lost at sea
Can barely make out the edges of a thing.
this poem originally appeared in Timbuktu