but you can have the glazed heat bursting from the blacktop like a broken
fire hydrant. You can have the jangle of keys
swinging from your hip with each stride.
You can have the tactility of leather and the graze of
bathroom mosaic tiles under a cold shower pelting
bullets and when the water cuts off
you can have dry book pages. You can have happiness,
though it will often be bitter, like finding a stranger’s
wallet full of pictures of smiling children until you
return it to find that the couple is barren.
You can have the scratches on the back of his knuckles,
faded, yet raw. You can have the translucency of sheets
in the sun, silhouettes but no details,
never revealing anything more than a fringe of hair
and frayed laces tripping over themselves.
You can drop obscenities like bombs until
they don’t mean anything anymore. You can pull out the Monopoly board
that broke your family. You can’t put it back together,
but you can pretend the thimble is your mother and the
car is your father and you own all the houses. And you can be thankful
for ink under your fingers, stamped letters wasted, thankful
for baldness because the chemo worked, for empty plastic bags
cluttered in your kitchen, for sleepy glances,
for doorknobs, for fingernails. You can have the hope chest,
the chest full of wedding mementos, the dress, the picture of you in it.
You can have the hat full of rabbit bones,
until the nightmare ends, you can have cerebral feats, the stitching
of skin, and furniture as broken as your heart.
You can’t expect him to notice you
but here is the rouge to teach you how to blush,
how to be coy, not shy,
until you don’t need it anymore, until you’re good enough,
and you believe it, know it, walk without heels
and feel tall anyway. And when romance fails you,
you still have the imprint of his hand on your cheek
when the red is gone, the distance of stars,
and the thunder that never came.
There is the fireplace that you can light at any time, if you’ve only a match,
and it will crackle, you can’t have it all,
but there is this.