Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2021  Vol. 20  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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One Plus One Minus One

That week on the shore, I was the one absent
in stacked echoes that continued.
How the hours were taken
and I, worn-

out as payment. His frustrations
all of them
and repeating. His mouth with
its ongoing brine

of sorrow. Words rolled along. They circled less
half their syllables.
He spelled the crease

in a narrow paper he’d saved
for a month in his pocket, spelled the name
of my mother

as if I hadn’t known her.
One day, two beds
became our house. Next day, two other
beds, and the body of water
was a single gauze.

From street to sloping street, we walked, split
by the ocean
of wretching words he used
through humid blues. Less sun

as the variations
of language set, grainy
with particles. Somewhere else
it was glimmering

to someone
who was laughing. My ear
was his mirror. I heard him grooming
his contours. Of course, he churned it again—
commenting over the pauses.

We went into night.
Clouds kicked around.
No need to find water
when the ocean was everywhere.  

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