February 20, 2013

Michelle Holmes

Complex of lost things

Before I was invisible I saw you; knocking
dusk at the metal  of my window screen
Door grown over with empty. You didn't know
my name had no more sound to it so I couldn't
answer  you, Apartment Man, oh steel toed lover
of Coltrane at 3 a.m., red truck idling dawn,
your hand raised as though there was music in it
I alone might hear. Did you see me, behind
the curtain, one eye green calling: "Come in
and take some tea," but the other was in shadow
and besides the first one can't be heard unless
you're looking straight into it, so you stood
there, soft bits of almost nothing left by me,
hasty lace trail from laundry room to Apt. No. 2,
dangling  from your fingertips like aubergine
satin sloughing from a 9-point buck.
How could I answer? Wearing none, planted, spray
tan still tacky  where my thighs met, rank piss
smell of it. If I could turn your face up, see
what kind of man delivers panties to a peeled down
brown girl and keeps his eyes to her eyes
when he hands them over, one by one.
Three pairs were from Kmart, one from Paris, France.
I could have told you this, legs as open as my mouth,
in my bed where you would say you like my laugh even
though I wasn't laughing. For three nights
there's music soft, from somewhere but it's far,
quieting. I press my ear to your wall but
my good eye says you sound like gone.

Hardening off

The day I came unrooted
my Richter scale said 9.9,
The seismic wild of it,
Cracking rocksoil five
generations caked-in.

In an earth-blink
I thought that I could
rise up, spring,
shed my leaves,
and spread across
your far-flung border,
bold as shattercane.

But a geological clock
Ticks slowly; a hundred million
years of indecision pass.

It is summer now.
Time for transplant past.
Dirt hard packed,
toes hard-wired.
Listen to the whir of it.
They say it's spread
into the bones.
Epidural steroid
and hypertonic saline
fills my capillaries now.

If you beckon, I would wash
your amber bottle, cut
my blossom for it.
My skin has never been so soft.

So far, though, you're not
beckoning. I lie still,
wrapped inside this Queen bed.
Everybody wants to hold my hand.
They talk about the weather
so I think about the wind.
If it blows hard enough 
I could tumble
like a weed.


Michelle Holmes spent this past year writing in California after a fellowship transplanted her from her lifelong Midwest home where she was the editor of two daily newspapers. Her poems have appeared in Barnwood Press, Word Riot, and other fine places. Quite surprisingly to her, she is the new voice of a children's Bible app.

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