Firestain—afternoon hard and ratty, a wirehanger
with an end chewed off. This is a silence drill.
All urgency is confined to cuticles, to follicles
holding firm and slowly pushing forward.
This is not contradiction. Your eyelashes plagiarize
shadows—shamelessly hiding parts
of your gaze that could explain
the odd static charge building on my chest,
the slight warming of light and cooling of air.
Suddenly, we are only syllables, no context,
no pattern, meeting only at points
of articulation. My tongue points
at your teeth. Your lips hide the retroflex
dance done on your palate.
This is the opposite of a shiver—
a sudden violent stillness. Clouds
are coming to bury us here, to squeeze the sun
out of the room, to fill it solid with half-light.
Like the best statues, we commemorate nothing.
Night erases a blank page, friction, a quick heat, then
the long slow freeze.
John Nieves has poems forthcoming or recently published in journals such as: Beloit Poetry Journal, Western Humanities Review, Southern Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review and Cream City Review. His first book, Curio, won the Elixir Press Annual Poetry Award Judge’s Prize and came out in early 2014. He is an Assistant Professor of English at Salisbury University. He received his M.A. from USF and his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri.