Because it wasn’t exactly breaking and entering,
because it was your friend’s house, because you knew
where they hid the key under the rock by the mailbox,
because you were supposed to feed their cats
while they were gone, because they were your friends
not mine, because when we fucked on their couch
we cleaned up after, because the heat was turned
almost completely off, because you were shivering naked
against the leather, because it wasn’t exactly stealing
when I opened their bottle of Cordella nestled behind
the cat litter, because I knew we were both only home
for the holiday, because we were there almost
two hours before we remembered to even feed
the cats, because you smelled like cinnamon, because
I was trying my hardest not to add weight to our actions,
because now you were living on the other side of the country,
because when you tripped over the Christmas lights
I laughed, because it wasn’t exactly drunk if you could
still walk a straight line on their hardwood floor,
because the worn grain felt smooth against my socks,
because your friend’s cats needed feeding, we fed them.
You sit close to me on the floor of your studio apartment,
show me your newest sketchbook, its nudes caricatured with
oversized nipples, fingers, lips. Then, two old sketchbooks:—
self-portraits where you’re never smiling; dripped watercolor
outlined in ballpoint pen; decoupaged receipts, movie ticket
stubs, and fortune cookie fortunes basted with one thin coat of
white glue. I know you just well enough to not have to say anything
right away as you turn each page. The next is filled with
scribbled quotes from your most recent ex beside penciled
etchings of his face: You, the song I want to sing but can’t.
Him in acrylic, him in charcoal, him behind words you drew over
and across him, words that run into the neighboring page:
You, the drink I want to drink and do. His nose is stronger than
mine, his eyes softer. But with each portrait, his features
become more and more exaggerated, sharper, turn into something
grotesque, something far from the first entry of him: a photograph
messily lacquered in and framed with colored pencil. I want you
to look up from the page toward me but you don’t. Outside
your window, an oak branch casts our reflection yellow.
You’re tracing the binding with your finger. You’re in them again.
I am standing on the edge of
a boat dock in Orange Beach,
Alabama, and I think of
the word: polar bear. Furthest thing
from here, but now the closest.
I have spoken it into being!
I think of all of it: of paw, of fur,
of teeth, of fat as insulation.
I think of all of nothing. Then I think of
all of polar bear and it’s terrible!
Two or three boats go by—
a speeder with two women
(one, a red bathing suit, the other orange),
and a man driving. But I am with
polar bear, of all polar bear is,
and it, with me. I must put myself
into the arctic into the ice into the water.
I have a friend who has a
wintertime lake house, sauna,
gazebo overlooking a snowy creek,
and she told me how,—
after sitting in the sauna for
an hour,—she would go jump
into the frozen creek. The rush would
kill her! But I am nowhere near
snow. I am at the beach. Neon and car
horns from across the street, red
and green navigation lights of
boats reflecting off the water. I think
of the ice sculpture of a swan
in my condo lobby: how it melted
within hours, back into the form
it came from. How to get to a swan
out of ice, one has to chip away at
what it’s not. But I am not
thinking of swan. Rather: polar bear!
I am thinking of all that is not polar bear
but should be. I must contain all
of polar bear, and all of polar bear
me. I just want to see it
the way it was meant to be seen.
I am standing here, at the end of
a boat dock, thinking of polar bear!
The dock’s posts extend into
water, its posts covered in barnacles,
its posts looking almost like dirty white fur.
I am standing here at the end of
a boat dock thinking of polar bear
and of a sculpture of a polar bear,
but the ice (that I don’t have) is melting.
William Fargason received a B.A. in English from Auburn University, where he served as poetry editor of the literary magazine The Circle. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in New Orleans Review, Eclectica Magazine, Sakura Review, Bayou Magazine, and H.O.W. Journal. He is a poetry M.F.A. candidate at the University of Maryland.