Love Poems to Accompany the Photographer’s Posthumous Exhibit by Alyssa Jewell


after WRS


Your blue heart was a crutch, a blizzard, a snow day excuse
if we’re going to be honest, so here, my love, is the red-brown
besotted burst ground into the grass–all the wasted
fruit pulp and pit from July’s hot pith: take and eat from me.
I want to swell crimson in your lungs– see you breathe
the morning light pink– see you steaming alongside the buffalo
lumbering down the South Dakota roadway– mighty and turning
through the noonday sun sunk down in slab of winter grey.
There’s no excuse for your diminishing.
Here is a trustworthy saying: I love you in truth painted
in blood vessels, in hibiscus and rose honey–offer me your life
poured out into the bird bath, your tongue curled in on itself three times.

This lust gives more than it takes. The silhouettes of the plum trees
arc without want. I want to know the heart of God– I want
to know the least of these. Show me the body loose in the garden.
Show me the hell I’ve needed and the balance therein.
I’ve asked for love deep and abiding and poured out in pitchers
of hot and sour and salt and vinegar and oil running through
the stuck on you cogs wheeling up my spine and into my throat.
And where is the body? And where is the body? Whose arms
are these: I think I know– in every footbridge of eyes and hands
locked into yours: unbroken figure. Misuse of energy. Topple
the straight lines, bend the frame, measure once, cut the bind.
O sloppy little desire: persist to my edges and breach every border.

My voice echoes well in the cathedral of your cotton-white skull
and so be it: this day goes up in forests flaming above the ocean floor
unhinging like a whale to swallow something human– a used up city
or the memory of a better you. Reckless highways, sawed off cars,
Naked Eyes played on fade: there were nights we thought we’d
never make it home. And home is cotton-white. And home is burning
or ascending or pedaling its way into this body’s wreckage
that has learned its rhythm in the terrible dance of dust and earth
and all the glittering, mirrored universes. You and I were always
made of breezes the color of lazuli: looks I tried to blindfold away–
but how your ghost announced itself every time through trumpet sound,
how you came back to me tenfold in relentless fire and never sorrow.
Alyssa Jewell is an assistant editor for New Issues Poetry and Prose and coordinates the Poets in Print reading series for the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best New Poets, Colorado Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Lake Effect, North American Review, Quarterly West, and Sugar House Review, among other publications. She lives and teaches in Grand Rapids, Michigan.