“I‘D HAVE WORN ANYTHING FOR THE PORTRAIT YOU HAD IN MIND.”
An unacknowledged violence, a sea. When we first met, boarding a ferry at the end of summer, I had imagined each of the devotions differently. Now the lights in the harbor darken like a kiss just below the ear—
Or, as they say in the provinces,
I speak his name and the coastline swerves left
“YOUR MOUTH, THE CENTER OF THE STAR.”
“THE WAY A GHOST BECOMES A BLUEPRINT.”
I later imagined our exchange as a film, which took place in garden near Bordeaux. In every scene: a girl in a white dress, who couldn’t pronounce the word for messenger, let alone her husband’s name.
All night, after the door had closed behind me, I tried to tell him that the presence was making itself known. I started to draw a picture of the light as it struck the armoire:
^ ^ ^
Of course, I couldn’t quite render that startling numbness at the back of my neck. What is the body but a ledger, the envelope onto which an address is eventually written.
I worry I don’t yet understand the nuances of sending gifts by post.
“HE SAID WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND. SHE SAID THERE IS NO TIME.”
“THE PASSAGE OF THE INTERVAL.”
Which is to say, the architecture of the cathedral is twofold. First, the stone cleaves straight through with longing. A crowd drifts away from the square near the market, and likewise, time. He’s probably guessed I don’t understand his letters anymore. So I read ode after ode written a strange language, and after awhile, I experience myself as foreign. A lady at the Metro stop without gloves or a coat. Holding all the wrong subway tokens.
When I miss the train, will he still be posting letters?
Kristina Marie Darling is the author of twenty-seven books of poetry, most recently Ghost / Landscape (with John Gallaher; BlazeVox Books, 2016) and the forthcoming Dark Horse (C&R Press, 2017). Her awards include three residencies at Yaddo, where she has held the Martha Walsh Pulver Residency for a Poet, as well as a Hawthornden Castle Fellowship, a Fundacion Valparaiso Fellowship, and three residencies at the American Academy in Rome. She is the recipient of grants from the Whiting Foundation and Harvard University’s Kittredge Fund. Her poems appear in New American Writing, The Harvard Review, The Mid-American Review, Poetry International, Passages North, Nimrod, and many other magazines. She has published essays in Agni, The Gettysburg Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Iowa Review, The Literary Review, The Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. She is Editor-in-Chief of Tupelo Quarterly, Associate Editor-in-Chief at Tupelo Press, and a contributing writer at Publishers Weekly.