Emily as a Choke of Silk

Delicate beam, thickened
in celebration of an induced
vision, we have seen the barn

on fire, but the barn has never
been on fire.  We have seen
the rivers emptied, but the sky

has only grazed our veins,
kissing them with degrees
of warmth.  We have, with

each other, been shoulder
blade to shoulder blade
with death, but not once

have we given a name
to that world, the one where
we don’t exist together,

the one where the names we
speak give us no safety at all.

*  *  *

Emily as Written by William Elliot Whitmore

The levy is an idea
& her shoulders,

that is a flood we
never could plan for,

but those sandbags
I kept around

the black locust tree,
they came in handy,

when Emily took me,
before she took

the rest of the town.

*  *  *

Emily as the Skin of Ocean Water

Grisly service, our shore
is a promise made to the dead,
but a promise that carries

so much absoluteness with it,
it can only keep the art
of losing buried beneath

the first, extending roll.  After
love becomes an option
we look at each shell we pick up

as an empty sausage casing,
a disgusting absence that tasted
once like a silver bone

that never held fat, only sinewy
muscle that led it to expire
in our waiting hands.

If we stand next to the ocean
long enough, we will believe
only in the filth of the ocean,

but if on a trip we were to see
the tide retreating, our lives
will feel unthreatened forever.