Slide to Unlock
after the iPhone entry screen, 2007—2016
Caught in the present tense,
we are continuously poised
to receive its three-word
command, the insistence
we open with a fall:
we unknowingly slip
into habit, press
our print from left
to right, unaware
of what uninvited
light will bow our heads.
When this trinity opens
our bodies, we respond
with our curious hands.
We no longer read the words.
A call expects an answer, a dark
screen, a touch. We are undone
by the promise of resolution,
temptation. Once, we could depend
on the corded spiral of miles,
delay ourselves with the orbit
of finger wheel, change
the exchange with a switch
hook. We could even leave
the rotary to ring, unheard
in the absence. Then, we
housed it for distance,
carving an alcove
into the wall.
Hold the line, we said.
Now, we are keyed constant,
pocketing names, waking
to flashes, feeling through the dark
before we open our eyes,
our cells carrying
the call of possible.
There is no signal
to prepare us
for the arrival
of that unresolved name,
its bright trick of letters.
It arrives after decades of silence,
the demand for an answer
so pressing it stings a vibration,
its invisible stigmata left
in our unsuspecting palms,
an irrevocable consequence
of reach out and touch someone.
Côte d’Azur, Seventeen Years Later
after Claude Monet’s “Antibes Seen From La Salis,” Toledo Museum of Art
It begins in gold, this pointing
upward of leaves. How the branches
rise, propose an unseen union.
Note the olive tree, the hidden
live in its name, the way it arrives,
mouthed, silent, as I love.
Wonder about the couple, left unpainted,
how we imagined ourselves
then, stippled as a tangle in the grass,
kept from Monet’s canvas. How we held
this vision in our years of absence: the tinge
of me inseparable from the mark of you.
What Monet said of this place: it was impossible
to paint without gemstones, its beautiful madness
a fairy tale of air and light.
Listen to the dazzle of that waiting city,
the way it calls us to believe. How we want
to dismiss the story, drown innocence
in the sea below. After seventeen years, a quarry
of space between us, I return to this landscape.
I open my hand to a fairy tale of air and light—
expect only memory, not the sudden slide
of your fingers, taking mine, or how we paint
ourselves here, again, into the impossible.
in its cradle
where an answer
we could not
if the call
It was easier,
then, to lie
How we could
blame the line,
to our name,