For Steve and Colin
We three who sit in a tattered, sprung black
booth on the non-music side
ourselves this. The confusion—
liver or lives, ecstasy
from a handful of pills or arms
from an invisible burden. It would kill
off two, would leave
the third alone
to hold the hollows
of an answer together
with her own hug
she wraps around herself.
No time to mourn, to encounter
rubble in a hole
before retail monster walls
rise above. Dismantling
December air, live
instruments and raw
voices not welcome
in this symmetrical disaster.
Uptown bans all scars.
This room is for music,
that one for shouting
on the fall down.
That’s how I remember it,
how I tried to keep it
straight. But when I got blurry,
I may have released
my vocal chords wrong—a coloring
outside the lines. A tiny bird darts in
of the retro deco
signage above the south-facing front
door. It’s locked. No more
food. One more night
of music in this room,
shouting in that. Tomorrow
the construction site wrapped thick
with plastic rattling
a gentle November death
breath will swallow it
whole. And that’s that.
Not marble, shale, leftover concrete, pieces of a letter
her grandmother wrote the summer before she died.
An article on the history of Saint Anthony Falls, milling along
the mighty river, grain refined into flour, torn photos revealing explosions
about to happen between two people unraveling
their love. A chapter from a science textbook on estuaries,
salt granules strewn across a diner booth table. A slice of ruby
nagahyde laying on the pavement beside an oversized dumpster,
the blood stain spreading across fertile ground. She places everything side by side,
doesn’t use a blender. Her thinking is as collaged as a map
of her love life before the end of the cold war—overlaps
exposed, tale ends hidden, holes carved into the ice, she might go diving
into the river before it thaws all the way through. The need
to be found has become so acute.
She was just a smoking pool
that night as any other. She belonged
to the faceless generation
she found hers
on the back of an envelope
addressed to no one.