Last night while watering the garden,
I mistakenly elbowed a yellow jacket
or perhaps it was a carpenter bee
casually bathing in a galaxy
of purple astor. And then, as if
taking the Circle Train home,
we accordioned together vaudeville-style —
our physical margins shaken
by the surface of bright lies.
And through the torn sleeve
of my sweater, I felt the stinger
insert until you stumbled, slow-motion,
into the flowerpot; inert like a lover
who has overexerted himself,
then lies down in the gold husk
of a late July night.
Now all that remains of us is a raised scar,
burning like a silver dollar —
swiftly seen-to with wet tea bags and copper pennies —
the way we tried to exorcise the toxins
from our lives: a blue basin next to the crib
of a sick infant or a vacuum cleaner hung,
then ignored, in the guest room closet.
When you left, I didn’t recognize myself in the drapes.
I took down all the mirrors
from the walls, subsisting on huckleberries
and the machinery of my heart
which came as a continuous surprise —
the new knowledge that
my body could outlast death —
could heal this deep, sharp sting.