Beneath a wall decked with jacked-up prices
I sit before you, nursing my cappuccino. The clouds
Scud sullenly on its surface, dark dust foreshadowing rain.
Your face, a white death-mask, hasn’t seen moisturizer
In months, perhaps years; perhaps since the last time
We met, shopped, purchased the outfit you squeezed into
Like snakeskin, the one I shed; is unfiltered by contouring,
Eyeliner, highlighter; drawn, but not drawn on; has gouges
Hacked into the flesh below the eyes. The silver lining
Of your hair parts two curtains of chemical night.
There are people who visit jungles, obscure and heated
As our past – where panthers overlook the life spring –
And record language before it dies. Wiped of context,
A fragment of forgotten worlds, it crackles half-heard
On tapes, over which scholars debate, seeking truth
And meaning. I have a job for them.
I want their skill of reconstruction, their tenacity,
To piece together a world and a dialect in which we
Are one people and can understand not just words,
But the mind, the purpose, the instinct, the intent.
You shift, seated uncomfortably. “I’ve not been out
In a few weeks. The garden’s coming on a treat.” I nod.
“And what are you growing there? Is it a grammar, teaching
The complex regional register of two girls so beautiful
That men wrecked cars, or fought in clubs
To be beside us, averted their eyes at your robed torso
Or trembled at my body, in a bra and jeans and spattered
Red with gloss paint? Is it a new code, whose novel tongue
Translates for us, replacing lost language, across the years
That brought me more life, and took the light from yours?”
I don’t really say it. I would fear a blank glance,
Misinterpretation, misunderstanding. At least, we need a translator.