in tennessee I found a firefly :: mary szybist

Flashing in the grass; the mouth of a spider clung
    to the dark of it: the legs of the spider
held the tucked wings close,
    held the abdomen still in the midst of calling
with thrusts of phosphorescent light–

When I am tired of being human, I try to remember
    the two stuck together like burrs. I try to place them
central in my mind where everything else must
    surround them, must see the burr and the barb of them.
There is courtship, and there is hunger. I suppose
    there are grips from which even angels cannot fly.
Even imagined ones. Luciferin, luciferase.
    When I am tired of only touching,
I have my mouth to try to tell you
    what, in your arms, is not erased.

apology :: mary szybist

I didn’t mean to say so much to you.
I should have thought to let the evening end
by looking at the stars subdued

into their antique blue and alabaster hues.
Such looking would have fit with my intent.
I didn’t mean to speak that way to you.

If I could take it back, I’d take it, undo
it, and replace it with the things I meant
to give—not what I let slip (it’s true)

like any pristine star of ornamental hue.
I do not always do what I intend.
I didn’t mean to say so much to you.

It slipped before I saw, before I knew.
Or do we always do what we intend?
Perhaps it’s true and all along I knew

what I was saying—but how I wanted you.
I should have thought to let the evening end.
The placid stars seemed filled and then subdued
by what I did and did not want to do.

to you again :: mary szybist

Again this morning my eyes woke up too close
to your eyes,

their almost green orbs
too heavy-lidded to really look back.

To wake up next to you
is ordinary. I do not even need to look at you

to see you.
But I do look. So when you come to me

in your opulent sadness, I see
you do not want me

to unbutton you
so I cannot do the one thing

I can do.
Now it is almost one a.m. I am still at my desk

and you are upstairs at your desk a staircase
away from me. Already it is years

of you a staircase
away from me. To be near you

and not near you
is ordinary.

You
are ordinary.

Still, how many afternoons have I spent
peeling blue paint from

our porch steps, peering above
hedgerows, the few parked cars for the first

glimpse of you. How many hours under
the overgrown, pink Camillas, thinking

the color was wrong for you, thinking
you’d appear

after my next
blink.

Soon you’ll come down the stairs
to tell me something. And I’ll say,

okay. Okay. I’ll say it
like that, say it just like

that, I’ll go on being
your never-enough.

It’s not the best in you
I long for. It’s when you’re noteless,

numb at the ends of my fingers, all is
all. I say it is.

to you again :: mary szybist

Again this morning my eyes woke up too close
to your eyes,

their almost green orbs
too heavy-lidded to really look back.

To wake up next to you
is ordinary. I do not even need to look at you

to see you.
But I do look. So when you come to me

in your opulent sadness, I see
you do not want me

to unbutton you
so I cannot do the one thing

I can do.
Now it is almost one a.m. I am still at my desk

and you are upstairs at your desk a staircase
away from me. Already it is years

of you a staircase
away from me. To be near you

and not near you
is ordinary.

You
are ordinary.

Still, how many afternoons have I spent
peeling blue paint from

our porch steps, peering above
hedgerows, the few parked cars for the first

glimpse of you. How many hours under
the overgrown, pink Camillas, thinking

the color was wrong for you, thinking
you’d appear

after my next
blink.

Soon you’ll come down the stairs
to tell me something. And I’ll say,

okay. Okay. I’ll say it
like that, say it just like

that, I’ll go on being
your never-enough.

It’s not the best in you
I long for. It’s when you’re noteless,

numb at the ends of my fingers, all is
all. I say it is.