It's just poetry, it won't bite


05.16.20 Posted in today's words by

Miguel Jacq’s most recent poem to appear here was “Air” (February 2019).

By Miguel Jacq

It flickers across my face,
finely escapes the temptation of touching

and pulls me like the strum of
a chord from sleep.

Dancing restlessly by my window
turns in pirouettes an insect

the hue of milled wheat having
passed through a sieve.

Here they call it papillon de nuit,
‘night butterfly’,

offering up a wing’s breadth of
syllables for this stop-motion ghost

hurling at its reflection, unrelenting.
Anything bright is a lighthouse.

I rise and attempt to dress in the dark
mutely, follow the breadcrumb trail

of floorboards that creak the least.
In the apartment across the street,

my neighbour glows in television light,
stroking his chin, eyes averted—

we have a symbol for thoughts
that come bursting out of nothing,

conceptualise kerosene
lighting a beacon above us.

My phantom guest beats frantic rhythms.
It eats inspiration for breakfast.

The grasp of fingers, twisting on cool iron.
My knuckles pop like seed.

At such an hour we could cocoon ourselves
from what the approach of dawn betrays,

be brave enough to be ephemeral,
mothballing either side of now.

But nocturnal is just a different response
to existing—an interpretation in skin,

one reacting stiffer than the other to
salt catching in the throat of midnight,

before a crisp sheet of air billows
and beckons swift retreat,

just one of us this time,

evokes a jetsam of childhood
washing up on the shores of the mind,

memory as pale ice cream burn
flowing into the forehead.


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