The Iowa Review

The Long Nineteenth Century


All the words I could write for you, the darkness rising through darkness the gleam-rich sea, a movie theater we went to.

I’m old now thinking, not yet closed thirty, I think of your back on the street corner how the crows spoke those nights how there was no time ever.

I’d think of you as if you’d already left, safer that way, Lisa said, just imagine and keep it in your mind. And I did, even when you left once, wild and mad, winded with anger, convinced they were glut with privilege, and they were, you said, and they are, and we? That animal sadness in your black eyes and mine. Acting is an art form after all, storm-torn, there’s the shape of it in you, in spite of you.

I did a lot of things for no reason, once with a bruised head you watched with me the sun sink and fold in an otherwise unremarkab­le scene. That threat of the bleakness brushed every outline, not even blood-rich passersby could beat through our threaded canopy.

What brute valleys I saw through time-stamped by you, the

moments’ tatters, the best of the different ends, the craggy bent.

The outskeleto­n a frame of mind, the digital natives incomprehe­nsible in that night and we barely containing. Were you feverless as I?

To look upon the one you love is to soothe the red stumps of the soul’s growing wings, Plato said, before you ascend, but the immobile

are dead. The misstep can leave him looking for his friends’ faces in medication­s and I, always in the long night, can never be reached.

“Many are those whose wings are broken” even the translatio­n did its work brought forth the self-moving drive forward to you, and backward too.

Thunder is all there is. The moth hour, the Dylan Thomas awareness of it all: brief, corruptibl­e flesh. This is all for you, a mild collapse.

Iseult, what that name can mean, reaching to me, an empty space. Iseult, I will cure you: horde, swarm, civilizati­on, bog. I will cure you in the end. My inheritanc­e a baselevel of fear and insecurity, as any immigrant knows, it doesn’t matter who you are because they hate you.

They hate you, don’t forget that they hate you. But you need

to make love necessary or disappear on a clear May day.

The heart’s bruise takes it all, radiates out in the way only it knows. I did a lot of things for no reason. I remember I am alone.

Now, the interest in detritus, the falling down trash, and the cleanup, that is what I like; the glitch music, the mucked landscape, how we fit it all, how I fit it all into vertical time that is here for no one. Put out your hand to me in Yeats commentary; I need the chronology, the sense of dead years.

That was the sun-comprehend­ing window that Iowa afternoon, you on the tan couch, smiling at a song. I wanted to, but I couldn’t for you, and you left, and it seemed you were gone always.

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