Wednesday, December 15, 2010

205. A Place We Once Called Tangier

I awoke

in the middle of the light
I remember waking
in the middle of the light through
the window

and a voice through the window
maybe later coming later
and singing
with the light on my face

A voice

as a modulation of sound
a form of flight
of light and slipping
down the street up
to us through our bodies

a song recorded
of calling and bringing
and words tendered as
offerings made up
for a particular day

A scorpion

kept
zippered in each of
the two pockets of my
brown pillowed jacket

taken from Volubilis
and zipped against
me
tiny crustaceous
hearts never
giving to a beat

I have

or keep
I save the skull
empty skull of a cat
on a small shelf
suffering sunlight

found on a field
beside our school leaning
into a slope north but
downward and toward

the Mediterranean
everything reaching
out to Gibraltar

We were

the children we
had always been
the children we
will always be

young enough
that our skin would
glow with the slightest
tinge of sunlight

I am

leaning heavy
into sleep and forgetting
the shapes of the streets
taste of pastries

sugared mint
tea every afternoon
and a weekly paella
enough for us

to wonder
if we were from
the sea or destined
for it

To hold

a memory
for so long is to let
it slip from you
dulled by use

but to feel
the warmth
of the light
within it

or the energy
of a hive
of memories
for one place

I would

ride a skateboard
down that long ramp
and turn sharply
and right at its end

riding beneath
our classrooms
and around the pillars
holding them aloft

before exiting
onto the basketball court
where I played as if
it mattered who won

We were

actors in
a Thornton Wilder
play and actors
in a life

took the train
to Rabat to perform
we were traveling
performers

because a life
doesn’t allow us
to stay in one place even
if we return to one
as you have to Tangier

One day

I’m sure you’ve forgotten it
for almost everything
is forgettable but almost never
to everyone so I

remember it
that one day we were walking
in the city maybe had
stopped for a cup
of coffee at that little shop

and we were talking
about handwriting and
the simplicity of yours

that day my hand
changed not to be yours
but to emulate its
simplicity there seemed

no time for complication
or space on the page
for unnecessary flourishes
our lives would be
too busy for any of that

So I

write you this letter
to remind you
of that sliver of space
where we once lived

to thank you for being
the friend that you were
to give myself

the opportunity to be
one of those people we were
for a moment and to hold
onto those memories

Just now

I pushed my head
into the fireplace and blew
hard enough to make
the logs turn yellow

with heat but producing
no flames and I felt
my skin contract
from the heat as if

burned only slightly
a powerful experience
at some level but
likely one I would have

forgotten by morning
except
that I’ve written it down
to make it a memory of yours

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