There was no harm in loving then,
no certain good either. But love was loving servants
or bosses. No straight road issuing from it.
Leaves around the door are penciled losses.
Twenty years to fix it.
Asters bloom one way or another.
–John Ashbery, “Meaningful Love”

 

Like pixels of light

our skin was red green blue.

There was no harm in loving,

eating almonds in the backseat

and traffic smearing the rain

red green, red green but even then

 

color was dropping

out. The muted symphony

of the moving window, the slow blade

droning either/but, either

but no certain good, either

love was loving pixellated moments

 

like watching you alight

for the dock,

or how you ran to water. Light

cut the planks in straight lines

or servants or bosses. By morning

every wet footprint wicks away,

 

no road issued from it,

nothing more than tea leaves.

I’m hanging round the door

penciling losses.

Our twenties as traces of chalk.

A few trips to the lake.

 

The dock skims water, the sky

flashes red, red. Nothing to fix it,

there’s not enough postage

for the letters, but asters

bloom one way or another, rainwater

beads. My cracked cup runneth.  

 

 

 

Elizabeth O’Brien lives in Minneapolis, MN. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The New England ReviewDiagram, Sixth Finch, Carve, Whiskey Island, decomP, PANK, CutBank, Swink, Versal, Juked, A capella Zoo, The Leveler, Slice, The Emerson Review, Flashquake, The Found Poetry Review, Glide Magazine, and other journals. 

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