Letter to V from Eugene

ariel machell  



Seeing you in Seattle last weekend, bundled up in a down coat
with honest-to-god feathers—red, of course,
that’s always been your color—really threw me for a loop.
We’ve only ever loved each other in the sun.
In LA, what we knew as winter was an hour of rain, the chill of shadow,
a light sweatshirt from Goodwill. I want to say something
to the ‘us’ of last year, complaining about 60 degrees, something like
“buckle up, buttercups!” Something like that. Something cute.
I’ve thought a lot about the ‘us’ of last year. Always so worried
about making rent, and earthquakes. And tinnitus.
My new roommate mentioned a ringing
in her ears today, and I heard you saying:
“If I’m fast enough, I can beat the noise.” The same way
you could turn the sound of cars into ocean waves breaking.
I’ve never been good at that. I would put you close
to my ear like a conch, if I could, and hear what you hear.
If I try now, there’s that particular ring of your voice
in my head—“it’s all confidence”—and I think
of the watermelon we stole last summer,
how I walked right out, heaving with it in my arms.
How we ate the slices down to their white rinds,
how bringing it to our mouths gave us sick green smiles.
We stole so much. Plucked herbs from the neighbors’
gardens, stuffed grocery store croissants in our pockets.
And doesn’t it always come back to money?
Seattle set me back, see, and Theo might need his tail amputated…
What if we spoke to each other the way we do our cats?
I’d be saying only “Look at you” and “I love you.”
Instead, I’m breaking down the costs and saying “I can’t.”
I can’t take that trip with you this summer, but you’ll write to me,
won’t you? A postcard. A poem. You’ll say, “I’m here.”
And I’ll pin it to the wall, I promise you. I’ll prove it.
I know you don’t think I ache as much as you do,
but I walked past a rosemary bush today and stopped
to stare for a long time. It’s true I didn’t take a sprig
in my leaving, but I can never say what I really mean.
I’m trying to tell you everything is a reenactment.
There’s no getting around that, and this is important.
In Seattle, at the Moonlight Café, you reached for the soy sauce
before you’d even tasted the broth. I’ve noticed that before,
and the warmth that bloomed then was just as encompassing.
I didn’t say anything, the way I took no sprig.
We’re not in LA together right now, but we will be, we can be.
“Again,” is the word I’ve been trying to arrive at, can’t you hear it?
I’d buy that word with all the change I have left in my pocket. Buckle up.

Author Bio

Ariel Machell is a poet from California. She received her MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon. She is an Associate Poetry Editor for Northwest Review. Her work has been nominated for Best New Poets, and is published or forthcoming in The McNeese Review, Pine Hills Review, Birdcoat Quarterly, The Pinch, SWWIM, The Shore, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and elsewhere. She currently lives in Los Angeles. You can find more of her work at arielmachell.com