Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2019  Vol. 18 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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So Many Promises

I promise to sleep on my left side
to balance out the dimple
a violin left just below a nipple,
and I promise to salt the sun
reflected in the chafing dish
my mother set out just when
I thought I was done dreaming.

I promise, I swear, to make my way
home through the storm without
harming any animals along the way
except those I must step on to cross
the dark waters that circle my words
like a moat of burning flesh.

I promise, and this time you must believe me,
that although all my life I’ve never
fulfilled any of my promises, I’ll soon visit
the narrowest place inside me where blood
whistles as it endlessly loops
through the body’s own astrolabe.

From there, I’ll call out your name, I promise,
when I reach the sweat-drenched entrance
some refer to as the gates of Rome,
and I promise that I’ll pass through
and enter the city whose stepmother is a wolf,
two infants swaying like pendants
from her jaw.

And I promise you this,
when all the promising is over, there will be
more promises, uncovered from a locked box
for which the key has been smelted into
a ring so that my promises will always be
turning in circles, along with promises
passed down to me, and one day we’ll sit together
on some distant shore and hold hands,
and we will break, and we will break.  

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