—for Christine Blasey Ford
In the hippocampus, she says, they bounce around
like swallows dodging heavy blots of rain.
Like ivy, beauty makes her weapon
by making her like beauty: what men can
never hold. For the rest of her
life, every neural path is a coffin
of thought. When she sleeps
their beaks like laughter, drill deep
into her brain. I remember the year
after the first year. After numbness
when I would walk out to the edge
of a road, flat as a river
and whisper madly to the stars.
The well of my mind, darkening.
The highway’s thick spine, heavy
as water against my back.
O God, if what divides
destroys then I understand
the mind, why it must live
separately from the heart.
Now, when I walk along the ocean
only the brutality of the tide. The moon
doomed in splendor, summoning
the water to rise and spin.
Like that, we tried to obey and love
the gentle crushing. Like that we fall
and fall. Now, how will we learn to hold
a face again when even orchids look like lips
bruised and sewn together? Yes, I tried
to love again, but when my man
undressed me, I felt the hands
of every man then felt
I couldn’t breathe. No one was to blame.
It was spring. Buds were busy
mocking me, proving we could live
through many deaths. How dare I? I thought
but here’s what no one told us:
every gentle thing will lose or lose
its body. That’s the problem with surviving
again and again, as we have. Poppies will yawn
themselves awake, their bloodstained mouths.
One day you’ll have to live.