We stay in the same room together, Vivien and I, even though the other rooms are empty. I sit at the table, and she sits across from me, we change places when we feel like it—we don’t need to turn on the lights in order to see each other. Sometimes I agree, other times Vivien does. If one of us turns away the other has already turned away. When one of us drops something one of us picks it up, if we have different needs, Vivien and I, it doesn’t mean we don’t need the same things. We do everything together, Vivien puts her hand on my waist and I put my hand on her waist, forming a circle with nothing inside it—the place where she holds onto me is where I want her hand to be, the place I stick my fingers into is the space she reserves for them. Neither of us finishes before the other. When there’s something I don’t know Vivien knows everything about it, if I can’t forget something she forgets for me—we make all our decisions together, Vivien and I, sometimes we hide behind each other, then we have to find each other. We even share our tissues—she uses one side and I use the other. Every afternoon we go out together, taking separate routes or going down different streets and meeting unexpectedly, when we come home I’m here before Vivien, and she’s here before me. Sometimes we look at each other as if we don’t even know what we’re going to see. We sleep in each other’s arms, holding onto each other in our sleep, when we call out in the night each of us covers the other’s mouth with a cupped hand.
Because we’re in the same boat together Because the ropes looped and knotted together Because of the ropes twisted around each other Because of the chest burn Because of the rope burn Because of the guyed mast Because of the mast embedded in the keel Because of the loosening mast leaning to one side or the other Because of the dent in the mast Because of the keel pulling apart in the middle as if it doesn’t get along with itself Because of the split keel Because of the false keel Because of the keel sliding through the water like the blade of a knife Because the hull scooped out like a butternut squash sucking invisibly at the bottom Because of the bunkbeds and bulkheads Because of the waves softening from not hardening Because of the deck slipping off or keeling over Because it’s about time Because by then it’s too late Because the boat turns into a piece of furniture
When you defend yourself that’s when they think you need to be accused,
of everything you have done,
together with everything you haven’t done
and were supposed to do,
of course you know
better than anyone.
I don’t think I’m a liability, not at all,
if they think I’m a liability that’s not the way I think about it,
if they think I’m dangerous I don’t mind,
it’s probably because they feel uncomfortable
and need to find
somebody to blame
for the way they feel.
Sometimes I think I guess I am.
People often need to defend themselves I’m not the only one,
and there are others who won’t let you
have something you need because they want you to keep asking for it,
this is the truth.
The truth is a defense.
It has my fingerprints
all over it,
I’m keeping my tongue on the inside of my teeth,
where it belongs when it’s the truth—
if they think it’s not I’m going to tell
them you don’t know anything about it,
and find something else to know. I mean
the law is the law,
everybody has weaknesses,
not to accept them. I don’t think they’re looking more closely than they need to,
as if they’re sitting in the partial view
seats with their eyes partly closed—
they don’t even know
what they haven’t seen.
They don’t even know what they haven’t even thought of. Not listening to my confession,
which is convenient above all
because I don’t have anything to confess,
nothing at all:
there’s no need to conceal what isn’t exposed.
I’m Right Here
When my skin is dry I take a long bath
and a hot bath
to moisten the surface,
the beauty of the surface is that everybody knows who you are,
but nobody really knows who you are.
I don’t even have time to look in the mirror,
I don’t want to spoil anything,
I mean there are so many things to look at,
of course, the way you look at things often determines what you see, although there are times when something you see completely changes the way you look at things.
Right now my mouth is open on one side,
running a little like a soft-cooked egg,
I’m trying to be careful,
if you’re not careful
you end up being careless.
Sometimes I say I’m afraid so—
I’m not afraid to show I care.
I’m brushing on some slate grey or forest green enamel in order to remind myself
there’s nothing wrong with the way I look,
I often hold onto myself,
holding onto the curve of the ribcage,
which is starting to slip away,
which is the reason I’m holding onto it.
It’s true abstention is easier when you don’t feel like it,
but I want you to know I’m still here,
I’m not going anywhere,
around the same time I started participating in the sharing economy—
it makes me feel young,
young enough not to be here,
can I get anything for you?
Is there something you’d like to share?
If you don’t want to
I understand if you don’t want to,
it’s better to be honest with each other—
I don’t want you to think I’m not paying attention,
I believe a person’s attention is a shovel and also a rake,
digging out and smoothing over at the same time.
Sometimes I have to go inside and say something to myself that nobody else needs to hear.
Peter Leight lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. He has previously published poems in Paris Review, AGNI, Antioch Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, FIELD, Raritan, and other magazines.