Intaglio
I’ve come to hobbies late
in life and suspect this
will be my last.
In the basement workshop,
perched on a wooden stool, I lean
over the workbench with a sack
of brass dog tags—
smooth ovals like tongues
pierced at either end. I’ve borrowed
the alphabet—each steel letter
backwards on a stem: boutonniere, 
Doric column, lightning rod at attention.
I choose my words 
carefully because space permits so little,
and hammer hard a dozen blows
to force an imprint in the metal:
Apricots, Rosa Rugosa, Eden, Avast,
distilling, myth-making, the way
a scientist in her lonely lab
wades into a microscope
to let the world expand.
It comes down to this:
Sweetie, Beach Plum, Elixir—
the rest of what I ever said—
jury-rigged, glued with conjunction,
tentative, subjunctive, speaking around
the indelible—drifts off
like so many airy gowns.
Upstairs you hear the hammer
pounding and tell me as we lie
again side by side under the patched roof,
under the reeling stars,
that it sounded like someone
bludgeoning her way into or from a room—
you could not decipher which.
The afterimage burned inside my eyelids
is of us with a chisel
and mallet, stammering after the dark.
Copyright © 2004–2017 Memorious