I. In the dark room of your absence,
where the walls are painted with Want,
I loop the scene in the subway station
where we play the lovers at State St.
At night, Want crawls down to sleep
next to me, taking on the shape
of your chest, your hands, and your outstretched arms.
II. When the brain remembers, it doesn’t remember
the same memory. What is retraced instead
is the last time the memory was remembered,
original events fading, discrepancies repeating.
If the second time I drift back to your eyes
I see half-melted caramels, they will melt
completely by the third or fourth time.
But they are darker, like molasses melting me.
Panic comes in and joins us on the floor.
III. When Odysseus left, Penelope weaved
for ten years. It is important to keep busy.
I decide to paint my portrait of you
in rebellion of my memory. A portrait
must capture likeness, personality, and mood.
But I don’t know how to capture the way
you sometimes melt butter into your coffee.
IV. There are fifty-five thousand art museums
in two hundred two countries. I consider
visiting them all and viewing every portrait
and every sculpture, too, but I would
have to borrow money. Anyway, I can’t
leave Panic and Want alone together
and you said you’d be home soon.
V. I can see God now,
who painted you first. He is sick
of my prayers and I should be thankful
you were here at all. I ask him
for the stars to trace as your mouth.
He peels a strip of them from the heavens
and sets them on the canvas.
Only I see you like this.
VI. Want, Panic, God, and I all agree
it looks nothing like you. Want thinks
it’s a picture of himself. Panic wants
to hire a fact-checker. God laughs
a nd says I’ve stained myself all over you.
Doubt, who is late to our party,
thinks we should burn it.
VII. The subway scene is skipping
stuck on the moment the train is arriving,
the automated voice taunting
until the screen flickers,
eating up our faces.