The last hateful thing I'll ever say
slips out right after the last hateful thing
I meant to say. I pin it to the table,
slice it lengthwise, flip it inside out
and wear it as a stole, bloody side out.
I open my mouth
but whatever's still in there
remains inside, wary, waiting.
Moon a sharp red sliver over the city
as the forest burns. I cut off my feet
and reattach them. A speck of ash
floats past my nose. I go cross-eyed
trying to focus on it. That last hateful thing
still waits for its turn.
The children of the burning forest,
the children of the dusty creek beds
give birth to children who open their mouths
to release great frothy battalions of bubbles
Covering the shore, covering the fields
The heat makes them burst. The night is filled
with their wet explosions
If I pressed my palm against your breast
too hard, if I made a ripple
that would not dissipate, I'm sorry.
I was a child of the fire and you
were born underwater. If we clasped hands,
would I be doused, or would you sizzle
Before I can ask the question,
the answer leaps from your throat
and knots itself around your neck.
You dangle there, swaying at the end
of the last hopeful thing you'll ever say,
the last hint you gave me. I file it away
with all the other hints, all the other hopes,
stand at the edge of the forest,
watching the bubbles gather into a cloud so heavy
the earth collapses beneath it.