the new virtue
i was dreaming,
blade in the middle of—
you played in the middle of the night
the guitar, your hurt voice
like two ghosts in the other room.
my pulse kicked at thin walls, then
forgave you: natural forbearance
of an ancillary audience.
i couldn't see a thing, but when i
remember it now, i see you,
silhouetted in every shade of midnight.
the truth is i didn't go in.
i listened, i compared the darkness
of the room to the one
behind my eyes.
after someone else's words failed you,
and i failed you,
and you felt an iron bar pressed
across your collar bone
so it would break you to stand,
did that youthful sorcery lash out at
long last? did you spend
a moment believing in something?
you can't hide it in water, shower baptist,
(pretend they're tears, devout nakedness)
you can't drown it. you can't wait it out.
not to be outdone, though, and never ones
to forsake a reminder, we spend long
hours lying awake like this, in keenest,
most humble empathy.
i couldn't tell you
what it is i like so much about your laugh
except maybe it reminds me of a version
of you i will never see firsthand, the boy-you,
the years when you were still ok with mystery
in the universe, a time that predates obsessive
returns to the bleak landscape of forging meaning
in a purposeless place—look, a world rests on
the crinkled pink lipstick print of a tea-filled
coffee mug, chipped and green and long cold—
and there is such unfortunate solace in how
thoroughly eclipsed you are by an empty chair.
when there is no one left lacking insight,
and you are lying away one spring night,
the first time a woman raked her fingernails
across the bony, pale expanse of your chest
will come fluttering back, and before you
have time to measure what it means,
you'll feel the heat from your hand
where it has come to rest over your heart.
© Alexandra Cannon
Bio: Alexandra is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (US), and holds a BA in English with a creative writing concentration from Albertus Magnus College, New Haven. Currently she is earning an MA in creative writing in London. Her work has previously appeared in Speck Literary Journal, Autumn Sky Poetry, The Shine Journal, and Albertus Magnus College's Breakwater,and is forthcoming in the Bedford Square: 7 anthology (Wood Ward Publishing, London, UK).