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It happened I could handle hot coals
like cool pearls soft-pressed in a filling hand
dredging a chest of them. It happened
I married a woman as true as a pearl in the mouth
of a fish-tank oyster bulging with bubbles
to the fright of the seamed-plastic diving man, airless,
clad in orange like the rims of these embers
stirring to life in the wind winding past
their hiss in the palms of my calloused hands.

It happened I could not help but suffer,
hope that my faith would be repaid in time,
if not in kind then in kind relenting,
a forbearing to crush out the coal in my chest
like a plaster pearl in strong hand. So it happens
we’re here, my beloved and I, my greater hope
swept out like loose ash and her hale lover dispatched
by an engine I’ve made of grief and iron
and the cold flames of revenge-enmired desire.

The city is lovely tonight. The tall buildings below
us bounded in lights. My love still bound to me
with a contraption of wire while my hands pour down
rock fire—we can see it burst out as they strike
ground, this dark cliff dark all around, like your
heart, love, dark all around. But you see me
burst below: fall, strike, and burst for you,
rock fire: steady, burning, true. It happens
I’ve despaired of love, but cannot despair of you.


Daniel A. Nicholls recently served as Writer in Residence at The Starving Artist in Keene, NH. He has work in Commas and Colons, and tweets as @nomopoetry.

© 2012, Daniel A. Nicholls

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