Poem by Rachel Eliza Griffiths
Photo by James Owens
For you took the night away over the garden & left no shelter
for the aster or the deer that hid there, feeding. You emptied
the buckets where rain would last for days. Where the birds
bathed, blotting our raised voices against sunrise. We would walk
into this garden when the house asked us to stop fighting.
We would walk, arms crossed, fists like bulbs turning
in mud. Turning in the dark. In the dark the scent of
lavender was unbearable. You walk away from this. You
drag my face beneath your arm. Without skin I return
to the house. Hold the radio near open windows.
Inside my head, my head turned away on the pillow.
I’m learning how to be a shadow. I must understand
how static works. Already dark, already indecipherable,
you liked that mostly.
For the kind of breathing we did could move
the moon backward. Already, a sort of gibbous farewell.
You saw my silhouette in the house the way movies use tricks
to invent memories we can recognize
but did not have. The better things in us tried
to stay up, night after night, when the dew of blame fell early.
Even shame could be celestial.
And a planet, like a dab of shimmers, hung low
near the hill where I sometimes hid, holding
my face until it stilled beneath the stones,
to get away from you.