by Teresa Leo
day deliberate as a given in math:
the known is there for something to hold on to,
something that leafs through books
and carries us to answers
about pi and the likelihood of decimals
repeating out of reach.
It's like that: a simple algorithm of four
corners coming together, the quadrangle of a dream,
where points leap out to powers higher
than the last argument made
for the likes of it: he read me poems.
To know that dream, how in it
the sky turns a gray more impeccable
than what last fingers dragged over a coffeetable find:
if there were sines and cosines in grooves of the furniture,
a palpable distance of arcs in wood thicker
than what keeps him reading beyond the end,
I'd give over the things that I've known
the sad geometry of people gyrating in supermarkets,
circumference of a desire to stand
firmly before cereal boxes without crying.
Crying over words that leap off objects
and insinuate themselves into the context
of our world.
To know the comfort of numbers and
to accept the impermanence of words,
how figures transform to shapes and colors,
sheets lifted and snapped by wind,
how warm hands speak of objects
that touched us briefly: unshakable proof
of coming together and falling away on axes.
As if rearranging things on the restaurant table
could speak of what's slipped between us:
the glass moved to the center,
water that takes the shape and holds it
the way the city on a clear night
holds the sky. A suspended distraction
of lights too numerous to count.
If I can't hold on to the glass
or stand still at the bathroom door without shaking,
the sound of the lock snaps my frame
and brings me back to the ordinary ritual
of leaving. How the woman departs
and looks over her shoulder, a look that says
it's all yours now, that the little things matter:
hair in the sink, the outline her lips leave on paper,
the little good-byes. Her lips are
too bold a color for a day that gathers itself
into one recoverable moment of loss,
the way tables turn over and people take to the room
for a while, give context to the memory of him
fingering the tableware after he's gone.
Nothing like chairs to speak of people
coming and going like little leaps of faith.
night I drank the coffeetable
twenty dollars here, an armchair there,
soon I'll be eating whole dressers,
credenzas, arms and legs like limbs
that dangled over the bed in a memory of naked bodies,
anything I can get my hands on,
anything we bought together
to make this place our place;
I'll consume the house.
Teresa Leo is
a contributing editor for CrossConnect and The American Poetry
Review, and a staff writer for Lip Magazine. Her work has recently
appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia City Paper,
Painted Bride Quarterly, APR, and the anthology Whatever
It Takes: Women on Women's Sport (FS&G, 1999). Her interview with
poet Martin Espada is forthcoming in Clackamas Literary Review.