That the tongue is often mistaken
for the body’s strongest muscle is no surprise.
I have a friend who might well heft to the tomb
the weight of every word spoken to him.
If pressed he might recast us to the womb,
replay labor’s caterwaul, the intermittent intercom
of mask-dappled voices. How the cava
he’s known in sleep, its gaseous tickle, its vats of phlegm
so soothing, slips rock to lava:
breached tuft and something like light beyond those tears, until
at last the inhuman windpipe pitches
its pain whole to the doctor’s bloodied hands.
That we are born so inconsolable, Alec,
is no real fire: the very squaring of womb and tomb
is enough to regret this stranger’s sweep,
these testy smacks on the ass like first punishment.
When we spoke last night you reinvigorated
your mother’s vodka tonics, the cigarettes and talk
around the kitchen sink. Now she’s inherited the spirit world
of her childhood home, you a rented room.
I can lament the slippage of person, place and thing
only as much as my blood becoming anyone’s
once it fills the bag. I envy the savant’s swath, your immaculate map—
having nothing but rhyme to staunch this wound.
Nothing but sound groping what’s gone before
to make less strange the stranger at my door.