By Robert Heald
Follow my song down Folly Road
and I’ll meet you on the dunes at the end
of South Carolina. Trace the veins
in my hands, imagine they’re rivers, imagine
swimming in the dark waters, something
shining beneath the waves. I know I once said
your body is the shore, my hands the ocean,
but these metaphors have a way of shifting
faces—so now you’re a hearthside,
now I’m a wildfire, now I’m the king
of these vanishing islands, while you’re a jester
in the palm trees trying to make me laugh
with a joke I’ve heard a thousand times before.
I only wanted to pass this with you,
to walk forward through the tide of days:
mornings in June, September afternoons, the rooms
of sky and light. So long, lonesome,
murmured the heart gone quiet, hands open
beneath the rain. Is this how it begins,
the seasons we spoke of, the plans we once made?
Is this where the long war ends, boarding
the ship of dreams with you beside me
in the night? And the dreams I dream:
it’s a high school dance, it’s a battlefield,
the girls in their gowns, the boys in the ties
their fathers tied, you standing in the corner,
you in the shirt I love, you smiling in a way
that fills my heart with sunlight, while outside
the sky rips apart. We’ll watch Carolina rising.
Bones reined against the tide. We will not ask
to be forgiven.
From Atlanta, Georgia, Robert Heald is pursuing an MFA in poetry at the University of Michigan. His work has appeared in River Sytx and Assaracus.