Postcard from the Desert of Reverie

Painting by the beautiful and talented Ella Calvert

(part of a series of poems written in response to Ella’s paintings)

Postcard from the Desert of Reverie

Dearest, the insects have quivered
long enough in the hole in my heart.
If you were here, you could press
your hand against the skin
where it beats, uselessly.

I have collected enough Mexican sunsets,
enough blood orange dreams
of distant cities, to know
that you are not coming home.

The spider scatters relax
only at night, settling into spasms
like the aftermath of a birth.

In the wee hours, the acids hiss
for a burst of their petulant green.
I have tried to hide my desire
for your eyes of lilac;
I have shined my skin
to the gleam of shellac.

Still it beats.
Time still turns
on the axis of thorns
which circle my chest.

I have tried to confine my thoughts
to shapes, like a rosary;
but the worry bleeds out,
erodes the coating
I have grown to protect
this fragile feeling.

Side by side, with or without,
I know you now
as the virus that spreads in my bones,
the words that swizzle and twist —
and in the darkness without colour,
mean nothing.

— July 2016