Michael DumanisUSAWriting2009
Back
State of the Union

We paint the bedroom walls Quixotic Plum.
We paint the bedroom ceiling Foggy Day.


You paint your nails and eyelids Powder Blue.
We drive to photograph the flying buttresses


of the flamboyant oil refinery
and stay through dusk to catch the glimmering


reflections of its lights against the Ship Channel,
and also the striated moon in the water,


rippling alongside, an incontrovertible fact.
You whisper, How much would it cost


to reupholster the Chrysler? You are as elegant
as a grand piano. You throw tantrums


for a living. You make a good living.
Everyone is rich, for a little while.


Everyone is happy, for a little while,
even a day is a very long time,


and for a while the spoons and butter knives
continue to reflect our sunburnt masks.


For years we act astonishingly lifelike,
running one’s lips across the other’s thorax,


painting the stairs and hallways Golden Fleece.
It would be nice to believe in a God.


Children step out of our curtains
and ask us to hold them.


Ours is the only of possible worlds:
femur, pubis, ribcage, sternum, clavicle.


We close our eyes when we get tired
of looking at each other. In my dream,


it is always the same: having painted
my breath Frost and my hair Quicksilver,


I stand with my luggage outside, getting ready
to board the slow train to Albania.


The night is heavy, though her skin is soft.
Night comes at me across the lawn until I fall.


She covers my mouth with her novocaine mouth.
Little torpedoes of grass shard my back.


Night paws at me with her five thousand hands,
then rubber-bands her limbs around my neck.


Night prays into my ears. They turn to moss.
Possibly, this is the only end: dust,


the star-addled, wind-saddled black
flag of the sky waving over us.


When I grow up, I do not want to be a headstone.
When I grow up, I want to be a book.