Magic Fire, Leonardo Nierman

Falling Back

by Lytton Bell

The dark man's bed is already on fire
by the time she runs to it
it has, by all accounts, spontaneously combusted
sweet sugar falls from his mouth
It seeps like molasses
It tastes red, smells of melons
twinkles like spring-fresh rain
in the fading light
and it turns the tongue blue
even bluer than that night
she spent with Reginald Spencer
back in Underbrook, PA
all those years ago
locked in the high school gymnasium, whistling
He showed her how to climb the rope
I lied. It doesn't turn the tongue blue
Wishes in the dark twitch anxiously
descending like a squadron of over-eager muff-divers
who can't be hungry because they haven't eaten
in days. In weeks. She's down with them
She's falling back
The cold gym floor of experience denies the abstract,
and the mirror is waxing reflective
shows her how she looked last
Tuesday at twelve ten
in her red dress
Or that day in 1986, her black jeans
folded neatly on a stack of navy blue wrestling mats
Or next year, in her pine-solid ensemble
of grass clippings and dirt
Tomorrow comes as quickly as she looks away
But she doesn't budge. She doesn't blink, unflinching
Kid Power, now she was a climber
I'll send her a postcard from the rope
she ascended with long black hands
Or were they blue? And when exactly was that day?
Only love disdains to climb or crawl
preferring to burn
the bitten end
of time spent in Jah'nat al-Ard
A lit match reaches toward her full mouth
around the glow of which the darkness waits
and trembles, itching to advance
Even the trees outside are smoking
large bark cigars
until at last, the dark man's unmade bed
unzips a crack of flame from its deepest spring and licks
a lengthening string of liquid sugar off of the tip
of this October evening's
retracted cerulean tongue

©2001 by Lytton Bell

Lytton Bell graduated magna cum laude from Bryn Mawr College in 1993. Her poetry has appeared in
Outsider Ink, Poems-for-All and is scheduled for publication in Still, Poetry Now, Poetic Voices and Clean Sheets. Her latest chapbook, The Book of Chaps, will be available in early 2002.

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