In the dark I said to her
these two things should not be wed
in one hand I held surrender
in the other I held mauve
the dream cloud had me caught
while behind her a cloaked pillar
fringed in ruffles like midnight’s abalone
towered as a grim love
I traced the lines of her face
leaving a dotted trail of mauve marks
sewing onto this unmemory
a face I'd like to forget
They woke up the deadname and said that I had died / said that I had killed myself / how many of them are there that deadname me / a family made of mismatched broken cups / they say to me in their own minds that you'll always be my Jacob / the mauve breath of selfishness disguised as love / an abuse scar / a fever fall in the pregnant mauve dark / the way the deadname wafts up as a miasma of loss / how spent the effort was to get you to call me by my actual name / my self-erected oracle / mauve: the color of the bruise that rests right where the name hangs on me / continues to hang each time it is ever used
I am a house full of ghosts
in a world without sage, without
stars, without light or salt.
I am a study of the way gray looks when they're royalty.
How many ghosts must I always carry with me?
How much more must I expand to accommodate?
I heard once
that trauma is a sliver in the brain
and flashbacks are your brain’s way
of getting the sliver out
Memory is a mauve ghost
hanging like a cloth, years
the breeze that unsettles the panels
just before the recollection
Mauve: the cold flame of air
of twilit skies, grey and red
like the neurons of the brain
When you're dead to so many people
who've taken away your name,
isn't it your holy prerogative to burn
the ghost of them out, the lamp
shuttered like a house?
Will it always burn?
the petals decayed white nicotine patina yellowed lace tea paper
petals white pungent denatured in self-acid delicate, lonely parfumerie
petal and stem calling through olfactory neurons the edges of a distant memory
exchanged, electrified data petals recalling a memory a vacuole of air from long ago
housed in the brain admixture of molecules imprinted petal-matrix stem and leaf
bone, mitochondria placental ridges scents odors petals pressed into fat
enfleurage fat absorbs scents fat holds onto hormones memory confit
petal-memory: to smell a flower, to place it on a coffee table, to watch it rot over a few days time
petals so delicate they brown the same day the flower was picked
so pungent that the aroma still rises from the trash bin petal-memory:
the bushes taller than me white petals as big as my hand the ants drowning in the sink
Our grandparents had a ten-foot long row of Gardenias in the
back of their house and their yard was home to a variety of
tropical fauna: Mountain Apple. Guava. Avocado. Tangerine.
Plumeria. We’d pluck fruit right from the trees and bite into
succulent, raw flesh. The Gardenias we’d gather and we’d wash
in an ancient sink caked with laundry detergent and lint from the
dryer that had gotten wet and dried over in successive blue and
pale-blue generations. Some petals would fall into the dirty
basin. We’d check the white flowers for black insects before
dousing them again with cold, cold water, shaking the ants off
like poppy seeds. We’d eat the fruit and smell our bounty of
flowers before deciding who we’d give our flowers to: the
largest to our mother, the second largest to our grandmother, and
the remainder to our bedroom for us to smell. There would be
piles of dead flowers around us as we danced, and we’d smell
them, the piles of petals, as we huffed in the hot air. The petals
would rise with our self-made wind and as we finished, they’d
fall all around us like feathers.
If I could keep only one memory, it would be this:
My grandmother and I – alone at the table.
She uses her fingers to pick up pieces of kugel and roast.
She – our bright genetrix – bites her teeth in worry.
A bowl of Gardenias sit between us
Between us – like the cancer cells, like the gap of so many years
the gardenias will sour with the passing of days
Sour – like the body sours with disease, the body like a wilting flower
Here, before the corruption, this moment this singularity
But I cannot keep only one memory;
I must keep them all.