NO SUCH ALIEN TO US IS DEATH

The flat, stale smell of death is on the curtains
In my room, and on my trousers too
As if I’d been there, standing near her arm
And gotten splattered when she fired the gun
It’s like the scent of brains and dark despair

Death in our time stays apart from us
Hiding, though the dead are known and near
But someone has to find it in fresh sleep
When coldness comes, invited by our hands
Or steals upon us sudden, as we walk

It was her husband found her, I was told
Husband, lover, one who shared her bed
One who knew her smile, her warmth, her care
But knew her darkness too, had felt her anger
Sometimes aimed at him, or aimed at her

I imagine finding love in blood and tears
Below the stars that witnessed its demise
A tightness grips my heart with that same cold
As if a part of me had passed there too
Or somehow felt the bullet blasting home

I imagine being him, enduring pain
That no known voice can give a proper shape
Wishing my blood ran into her veins
Or my heart beat within her chest for her
Or my head took that missile in her place

I feel all this from distance safe, and time
That runs along a different axis here
As though the shot were in another world
The blood upon another planet’s soil
But no such alien to us is death

The smell still clings, and haunts my home and work
I’m guessing it will fade across my years
But do I want it so to fade?  Perhaps
Or maybe I would keep a hint of odor
To keep my blood from clotting in my limbs

Perhaps I’ll keep a hint of her with me
That I might always find my love in time
Before she puts her hand to steel and fire
Before she puts a dagger to her soul
That I might bleed before another dies

Every Night I Pull My Tears

Every night I pull my tears
From pockets of my pants or jeans and
Toss them in the laundry hamper.

There they sit, for one to seven
Days (depending when we wash) in my
Room of rest (but not always sleep).

They never sit alone as they wait,
Soaked in the cotton/poly white that I
Carry for mucous, sweat… and this.

Mornings I take one, neatly folded and
“Clean,” the tears all rinsed away
(meaning merged with other liquid,
Diluted to indiscernibility).

But that they’re gone is no mere absence, their
Trace still haunts the washed white cloth
Invisible, unlike occasional blood.

Sometimes tears of others mix when
I’ve a cloth and they’re without. It’s
“Clean,” but still they mix therein. So

At night, when I tiredly pull my tears
For washing, it’s more than just today’s
And more than mine, aware or not.

That “clean” is never purely so can
Irk one. But with tears I’d guess
It fuels the soul to carry such traces.

.

“It was strange how some of childhood’s words and ways fell at the wayside and were left behind, while others clamped tight and rode for life, growing the heavier to carry as time passed.”

(Stephen King, The Gunslinger)

Not a reduction of pain, and not sleep, but a suppression of memory, like anesthetics that keep you “cooperative.”