Julie E. Bloemeke
First Kiss From the Man Who Became My Husband
And in the rolling night,
drinks raised in laughter
and toast, there is the lure
of crepe, us winding ourselves,
tangled in green, swirling
down from the apex of dance.
We spin with each other, collapse
on the couch. You right
my glass, somehow still full.
Your hands meet as a cup.
My face fills them.
I realize I was wrong
about everything. Even you.
Your eyes study the rises
and corners of my cheeks.
You hold the moment before
the meeting. Because how
could we know this night
would sudden itself sacred?
When we pause, we open
our eyes to each other.
Your first impulse is to speak
my entire name. As if in calling.
You say I am a place
lifted from every geography.
Who wouldn’t have said yes
to one who promised
a life of such discovery?
Who wouldn’t have said
Consider the Gift of Your Happiness
Every person that day
bore a certain unkindness,
every interaction a wall of life’s
defense, the quick protect in turn
of phrase, the scarred gesture, the eyes
looking down, so down, to the happened
heart. You had no reason to be otherwise,
in your own desert of woe and worry:
the troubled child, the vengeful
ex-wife. And yet, when I left my life
for weeks of solitude, when I held
my phone, a last tether, my finger
poised over that final button
to off, you arrived, lighting my hand,
bowed words asking to hear my voice.
And under a moon so bold
it could lift fear, and maybe the idea
of night, you are waiting. For me.
For yes. I key to invite you in.
We talk. It is in the words you say.
And don’t. It is how you listen. There.
These places in me so nailed. My years
of scaffolding. Of no. Tonight you
place a lantern there.
In this simple space of wires, our voices fly
over every boundary, every state,
and we are holding on, spinning together,
released in laughter, somehow, for now,
this perfect parallel of joy. This could only
be from you, you who knew
me at the youngest knowing of who
I might be now, as I was seeing myself
for myself that first time. You, who
I would have dreamed impossible
for just such this.
What reason did you have but love?
The day I didn’t call him
happened for six months.
He wrote first, can I?
He wrote then, will you?
He wrote finally, I am asking you
to please. And each time I wept,
sand falling in every upended hour.
How can I know what
I am doing, my own tin
heart full of holes and powder?
I want to believe that words
given on the silver plate of love
mean nothing but love.
But can this be? Because
behind all of these signposts,
these spines of words cracking
from their wires, there is still
the young girl of me,
peering from behind the reflection,
calling into the absence
saying where is the way?
Self Portrait of Ex
Picture yourself then,
cocksure with desire
jawline over your shoulder.
Greyscale. Your eyes fixed
on mine, lips in permanent
part for the words I still hear,
the ones you began as I closed
the shutter, finished as you pressed
your lips into my neck: Come here.
I want you.
And how you left
anyway, your body
facing forward all along,
your last look back to me
as if to carry and condemn,
this entire film of regret.
This is what I want: a photo
of you seventeen years later,
to hold you this way instead:
Give me your face as you see you,
when you look back to yourself,
hold the mirror to years without me.
Give me strands of silver, fractures,
deep lines around your eyes, a scar
I cannot remember. That’s right.
Take off your sunglasses. Give me all
of it, your arm outstretched as you lean
hard into the frame, jostling on the train
through Europe. Let me see how regret
has chiseled you, how the numbers, rung
by rung, have eroded you.
Take it with your own hand, in profile,
take it looking out the window. Admit
you cannot bear to turn your eyes
to the camera, to allow me to see the small
glare of yearning, unable to be stopped
by a shadow, this moving train, even some stranger
that could give you permission to smile.
Selfish for what I cannot have,
I hold your sudden face in my hands,
persuade myself that I can keep you.
How cruel I am in my screen need,
the way I pin you to my want, whisper
to your photo shimmering over the surface
tension of my phone. Tensile suffocation:
how I bring you closer with the parting
of thumb and forefinger,
how I hone in on your eye that looks
to a lens, trick myself into believing
you are looking for me.
I will my body into your self shot,
the invitation of space next to you,
lying that it holds itself for us.
How quick I am to claim
regret as love. If this was love
I would unbuckle you.
But see, even there.
I am making you naked in the words,
stripping you versus saying
cut yourself away, run while you can.
Julie E. Bloemeke is currently working on her first book of poetry. A 2012 and 2014 fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, her manuscript was recently selected as a semifinalist in the 2014 Crab Orchard Poetry Series First Book Award. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in various publications including Chautauqua Literary Journal, Drunken Boat, Poet Lore, Deep South Magazine, and The Southern Poetry Anthology: Georgia.