I used to see how far I could flirt with you, you say. A cool descriptor
for those solar interventions, the way you draped yourself across
the stair rail like a scarlet boa, slouchy, ever-ready in my path—
the ungentle comet of your smile.
But not at first. At first you were on point, dizzyingly vertical, haughty
as a freshly sharpened pencil, staccato with the intensity of your sharps,
fearful of breaking. That’s what caught my eye.
The way you’d jolt from standstill to over the speed limit to curt-braked arrest
in a sentence span.
We were spellbound. We laughed in the shock wake of your commanding
awkwardness. You trembled— a routine tremor trembled you—
and didn’t blink. The class moved on but I never did.
And from that day, you seemed to commit to ambush.
You were always already in rooms when I entered, studiedly scanning
a dog-eared paperback. Not that you’d acknowledge me, necessarily—
too busy with the important stuff— but your presence was sticky
with spider silk.
But then you might: acknowledge me. Ask with poe-faced
concentration with zero lead-in vibrating down that breathless runway
speech Ah— how would you feel about a dog-sized elephant?
I discovered we had the groke, Bruno S, oversized cardigans,
a love of lilac, Jarvis Cocker, and the neurasthenic in common; that
some days you had to leave the house early because you were having
too many negative thoughts.
King of the spontaneous mood descriptor as intimate offering,
you favoured those melancholy-shaded words fallen from grace:
gingerly or meek, as in I feel very meek.
Am I just an experiment? you asked.
Am I? I wondered back.
And when we spoke again by phone after a two-year drought,
I’m bathing in this.
I wasn’t the only one struck by your habit of cutting to the
fundamental, but I noticed your what do I feel right now?
had the power to fleetingly anchor,
to alight you from the restlessly far flung, sidereal place
where you spent so much time. Still do.
Words suspend you and balloon you out: the spider at his silk
casting those tensile safety/signal lines, words.
Silky, might that word always be yours:
your floss of hair your soft abrupt the effortless slide
your presence makes into the sounding depths.
20 September 2016