I thought you were making me
when you set bones beneath my skin,
carved each from ash and cherry wood,
and with a pitted pen knife scratched
your initials on my ulna. Eyes open,
you said, but I didn’t have them yet.
You took wave-worn chips of abalone,
fit them under my eyelids. Breathe, you said
and Walk and Kiss me there.
But you made my nervous system
from a creeping vine,
prone to wander, and with your
grandmother’s music box lodged
in my throat, I walked away.
I’ve been walking for years now.
I have a perfect map of Paris
tattooed on the sole of my left foot.
I wrote your name
on a curl of paper
and burned it where Caesar fell.
I traded my eyes
to a man with a voice like an oil-slick;
the hand you sculpted shattered
one night in Venice.
I’m made mostly of copper
and scrimshaw now. The letters you carved
still wake me up at night.
I remember the address,
wonder if the pipe is still dripping
like a tinny heart. I think
of the things
I will tell you.
But the girl who answers the door
does not know you.
She knew a man with your face, and the books
he read to her, and the chair losing stuffing
where he sighed in the evening.
I have thought of making you again.
I would begin
with a blackbird’s feathers after the rain,
but I remember most of all
the knife in your hand
and I cannot find the rasp
of the blade on wood
nor would I know where to put it—
in the hand or chest or under the tongue.
Tonight I slit the seams you made.
The wood was worn,
initials smoothed away.