Sheila Fiona Black

For America

What was her name again—

her with the wings of hair and the
flash of the face behind

the face.  She didn’t leave her
number on any matchbook, she returned

the call you never thought to 
make; she stuffed herself in the corner. She drank

until she threw up everything inside,
until she was silver and sluiced, until

you couldn’t separate your blood from
hers, those rose petals and that they keep pearling

outward.  Drip, drip, and drip again—

the one who left you on that sun-stroked
corner where trash lined the gutters and

a man threw a book at your head, opened
his mouth so wide you grasped the meaning of 

guttural.  You think about where she clings—
a mouse-fur, a soft thing and inside

a blooming  you would stop if you could
but the only way in  is poison, just as the only 

means of living we have is within the house of
dying.  These mysteries are old, but

today they feel as personal as the hot cup 
in your hand, full of a buttery brown liquid

whose name no longer means much to you,
only the tenderness of letting go

as swallows do when they swirl in the soot-choke
of chimney and evening, and evening,

and that girl whose name you hardly dared
speak to anyone.