We talked with each other about each other
Though neither of us spoke – Emily Dickinson
In the cemetery, the only available light
is shed by those wandering through,
tired, hungry, and a little put-off
to be stepping on the mouths of so many
once-people. We overlook the names
ambling towards one end which is a river,
which is always, somehow, a river.
I joke you brought me here to show me
your plot or to slay me in summer’s
unabridged grass, though the joke’s
that your hands will never be on me.
No future between us; we might as well be dead,
quoting Hardy to explain the little path
you sometimes take—like in a film you shut off
because life’s short. Come midnight,
youths commit all sorts of crimes to prove
they’re not afraid of what’s coming for them.
They have the right idea, the wrong one,
or none. Either way, the grave. The flowers
growing furiously in their June bodies.
I lie about cemeteries all the time.
It’s most alive at the heart of the thing
where the brush of your fingertips
against my wrist could send me begging.
Hurry, while we aren’t dried up rivers.
While your mouth’s not underfoot
in a permanent scream. It’s most alive
at the heart of the thing, the only light,
a bright sheen given off by everything.
Maya C Popa is a poet based in New York City. Her first collection, American Faith, is published by Sarabande Books.
This article appears in the 26 May 2021 issue of the New Statesman, The new Toryism