I still taste you from the time
you painted my tongue
with your scarlet finger.
It cured my heart of innocence,
that single dose, and I have tasted it—
the double truth—ever since:
the bittersweet in the words
I cannot speak but stick
in my mouth like stones
I’ve learned to talk around.
She breathed a chill that slowed the sap
inside the phloem, stood perfectly still
inside the dark, then walked to a field
where the distance crooned in a small
blue voice how close it is, how the gravity
of sky pulls you up like steam from the arch.
She sang along until the silence soloed
in a northern wind, then headed back
to the sugar stand and drank from a maple
to thin her blood with the spirit of sap.
To quicken its pace to the speed of sound
then hear it boom inside her heart.
To quicken her mind to the speed of light
with another suck from the flooded tap.
My tongue leapt out of my mouth
when I lied to her and hopped away
to the stream below the house.
Mute then, I started to write the truth.
My tongue turned wild in the stream,
for which I was glad and unashamed.
I listen now from my porch to the complex things
it says in the distance about my heart.
How hard it is to tell the truth inside my mouth.
How much it needs to sing in the dark.