I Remember You Were Made of Dark, Warm Wood

Three poems about desire by Marshall Mallicoat

Child leaning against tree on farm

I Remember You Were Made of Dark, Warm Wood

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Blowjob in a Car Wash 
Eating peaches over the kitchen sink, 
a second mouth opens beneath my chin 
to catch the juice that trickles off. 

Deep in machine-assisted sleep I dream
of farewell banquets in carpeted ballrooms, 
the silverware twinkling in projector-light. 

This too will pass, like carside-window grass, 
as if a reel of film sped up, 
unwinding on a loop of desert waste. 

Sifting through the strata of a drawer
I find a pen printed with the name
of the hospital where I was born.

Now, by twisted strands of fate rejoined, 
I stoop to lance a fallen grape 
that has rolled beneath the oven.

Six P.M.
I can read the hour from the street corner
with the stop sign as my gnomon. 
Its shadow is taut as a kite string, 
arcing in the gale of light. 
Lifting my eyes to the horizon, 
this Illinois sunset flattens me. 

Embracing you, I descend into a cellar. 
My vision softens in the darkness. 
And I can only see the halo of your head, 
and feel the schema of your limbs. 
You become the idea of yourself.

If I could, I’d live in endless six p.m., 
the sun’s position fixed at the horizon. 
Only in this hour can I see you clearly, 
before the veil of night lowers between us, 
and I no longer know you, 
although I knew you once.

Tonight I’m lonesome enough to write a letter
addressed to a Florida key. I bend my thumb
to squeeze the silver from a silverfish, 
and in its ink I fix my signature. 
Branches reach toward my window to take my hand, 
but I am inconsolable. I stomp down
the stairs like playing “Chopsticks” with my feet. 

I remember you were made of dark, warm wood— 
or do I still? 
At least I feel a warmth and see a darkness. 
We cut our hair alike and walked the streets
as if our limbs were bound together, chained
like galley slaves on the Aegean sea. 
It’s true that I remember less well than you, 
and so I remember it better, even good; 
in the dimness of my memory you gleam, 
receding to a single point of light.

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