You birth in me something ungiven,
Not a will to live but rather
A pair of permanently unfolded wings
And a sadistic thirst for flying
A will for Plathian nostalgia
(her stasis in darkness, my unhinged half)
Should I have phrased such a sentiment
Years before I tore the feathers off bleeding flesh
In a dream where you came for me
And screamed in mechanical fluency
When I thought a sanguine river would
Drown me out of sobriety--
Neon black if it ever existed,
You would have been its mother too,
The sun that rises still and stays
When in every other zenith
Its feathers are plucked into oblivion--
Only you with your tight and cold
Inherently indifferent affection
The coldest motherly love you give and ungive
Only you prophesize cries of
Some unknown sardonic passion that paints
Bridges from imaginary borders
Of all your islands whose children
Come to ask for milk. One nourishment.
Socialism in its finest and most uncanny form.
There is frost in late July.
Ants drown in cracks.
We are sunkissed
But only unknowingly.
We’ve come to ask for
A mother’s wisdom,
Her first nourishment
And us, your first
Södermalm’s kin whom kiss you from afar
In the grandeur of our buttercup crowns, mud-caked feet
Singing saccharinely when we think you
So what if the Greeks claimed to have invented
Eight varieties of love in place of the one complex
Array of lust that you engraved in us as birthmarks?
There is a heart-shaped mole
On the nape of my neck from when
You kissed existence into my birthmother’s
Stomach and spat me out,
A peach pit that grew from lichens
And salty soil.
Once, I am sure all my lovers
(Those imagined and those whose emotional height
Only reached Platonism)
Looked at me to find an impenetrable sheet
Of Northern Lights,
I am sure they would have thought to ask
Why no one could ascend this self-imposed hierarchical ladder of love,
why affection suddenly became bureaucratic.
When I puff pretty boys and girls kisses
They disintegrate in midair as if to make their way
Back to the glass lungs that made them.
Twenty-nine days past Midsummer.
Sun in Cancer. I can’t stop touching myself.
Closure is a damned concept when for
Years and years on end I went out
To buy gold-rimmed Sobranies. I replaced
Grief with ashes and the wavering motion of
Fingers pressed against a flame the way most men
Forget their children. Mother
Take me back. God help me, I didn’t know
What I was doing. For years and years on end I
Was hungry. I won’t know an afterlife any more permanent
Than these ashes that leave their red mark on my fingers.
I should confess none of this. I tremble like a sick tooth
In your absence and I don’t even know it. I travel promiscuously
But abroad all your words are mispronunciations.
Some less favorable than others.
It is not a product of wrongdoing, but rather
One of childlike gullibility,
The belief that with each rising sun our regrets
Are softer, fainter, perhaps the byproduct of
Youth-inspired allure. We use immigration and wanderlust synonymously.
Any past misdeeds find the invention
Of a kinder memory.
Six years and my mother’s cries of pain
As I proliferated from underneath her hips
Weren’t enough, at least never for me. All these years
I could only admire you from a distance, inside atlases
And through confused gazes of people who asked how
I spoke English with such a thick American accent when
My hair was so much yellower than theirs.
I fill out the same needless paperwork over
Over to revive your syntax. City and country of birth. Citizenship
Upon birth. Current citizenship. (Permanent) residence.
The living room is full of reminders of your presence in my life.
The unbreakable blue-and-yellow of a flag’s threads.
News articles including the erratic incident of gun violence in Gothenburg. I forget
Sunday school and ritual cleansing. Last month, on the cusp of Cancer and Leo, I stood on the threshold of half a room for the first time in countless Midsummers where I
Originally left you and realized your revival
Was all the holiness I could ask for.