Between a Dragonfly & an Osprey
in the melody, the breaking was faint. but it was there like this love between a dragonfly and an osprey. —Chiwan Choi, from The Yellow House
All the house is caterwauling with dangling aaaayes, brays that dodge and feint, breaths that meet, mingle, vacillate, climb, rock, & catapult, crowing into outer space. Now a monthly ache breaks to gravy (womb & belly) or the grave—dagger twisted to the hilt, a tortured stabbing —& all my body again is rattling (gawking golly at its gears & grates)— gray bay, some shushed Monet, & in the port of pain a snow globe docks, full of crouching cats & widows’ walks (at the ready for shaking up)—
& now, yes, slowly pluck— (“Ow! Mow!” the feral cats outside cry, convulsing heatstruck to saunter off & lie in wait for us)— you’re culling all the consonants so only my vowels can purr & plead, winnowed out of me (outside they roll & wrestle, loll & shriek) & now slung high higher all our lists & problematics, posturing & panic’s heaved to the high-flung seas (& the door’s unjambed, the windows falter, & all the house is caterwauling).
At the ready for shaking up, rag- time packs its punches on the packet yacht, a syncopation pitched one up—feet pound, torso cocks, & now a breeze parts the afternoon like Moses cleaving the Red Sea (& you beside me impersonate ducks wra wra wra like a motor while real ducks paddle by three single file, & a fourth struggles a yard behind), & we are three, jittery, drifting in & out of focus, backlit at the prow, & we’re two rising in & out of depth, who’ve clung together in fits buffeting a four-poster bed, & I am one pulsing mimosas & piano jive, mouthful of hair whipped from behind, head bopping 2/4 time, as the river breaks three ways & one splits to ride a balustrade.
Dripping Tyrian purple on your lips & neck, I’ve again fallen back upon the spread, buoyed by tales of lucky crossings & horseshoes mounted upside down, cathedral naves & buttresses splayed to wake the day. We’re wreaking maroon on the room when you angle from the side, swift, eyes wide as skylights, closing in—& the whole world’s gone cerulean.
Gone, the world—cerulean or not. Lost a toss up. Coughed up a shock. If I loved you, I loved you staggering in lurch. If you left me, you left me the last wind- up clock. It won’t stop ticking, aspirates though my lungs have been plundered & my heart’s a ruin of gears that won’t budge. There are springs hooked into me that I can’t unhitch. They grapple & claw. Burnished blunders glow like coals. The cock caws, but it cannot crow. So many fears I’ve caught & saddled, boldly straddled. Then I’ve been thrown.
If, in the blue noon, my body of windows gasps & cracks, all my shutters rattle like a storm’s approaching fast, shutters of ankles & hips, shutters of toenails & skin— rat a tat tat shudders groin & arching back, lips elbows rat a tat—& all my jambs yowl like feral cats, frames bloat heatstruck, panes convulse, contract, implode, aspirate & shatter aack aaack awwww aaaaa— & above beneath within between you’re asking a question that blooms in me like a tulip, & I am begging you to inhale its sepals all at once (can’t you see this gaping hole where a wind- ow was?), & now, yes, slowly, pluck—
If/when sunset’s seeping —my body of windows gasps & cracks— maybe a window is inside out. Maybe it was hung like a song with the chorus torn out. Between the wind- ow & the frame is a gap. The gap is expansive, glad- handing all the intruders or guests: One is a snarled lullaby drifting out of a throng. One is a sodden name for thorn. One is a katydid playing the role of a leaf. She’s given away by her tremulous wings. She plods across my pillow, drags one rear leg like a bum deal. Every window is a caesura. Every maimed katydid is a gap in flight. I was impersonating a maple leaf in autumn, feverish & brash, until I lost myself in the camouflage & got blown back. Maybe window is a portmanteau of wind & ow!—or is it wind & awe?
One splits to ride a balustrade, flinging five o’clock shadows in our way & prizing rockfish from the banks, shad & blue- backs primed to eviscerate. An osprey ferries fish to boxed- in nests, & I’m a box that smells of cedar & wax, iron, rye, & sass- afrass, ink & scoresheets from balderdash. I’m a draw- bridge above you that writhes & contracts, dripping Tyrian purple on your lips & neck.
Or is it wind & awe? Since you tore the floor out from under me, I have taken to levitating. I just recline, and the air beneath me calcifies. It is holding me up like an oath. It is holding me in like a song. Have you ever heard a song rocked in the breath, in the hull? It’s rising between the ribs of the boat. It’s driving in the pitch of the pulse.
The din is marvelous: air thick with buzz & cackle, thrum & trill, too stiff to breathe— up– chuck gulping muck. Have you ever seen a shuttle– cock gag? All agog in flight & awe, chokes biting the net & falls. I won’t be felled (& you?)—roiling in blue. Sunset bleeds into the line of hickories, flexes— its shriveled tourniquet seeping.
Then I’ve been thrown into the pitch, an unhinged beam split & raked to silt. My long arms evaporate, lean spleen distends, thrashes my gut, a jilted sail passing wind. I am docked in a burnt-out dream. It rocks underfoot, writhes in vertiginous seas. I want to levy a tax on trust. Moored in glass, shored in tin & teal—splint- ering, the din is marvelous.