Despy Boutris has writing published or forthcoming in American Poetry Review, American Literary Review, Southern Indiana Review, Copper Nickel, Colorado Review, The Adroit Journal, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. Currently, she teaches at the University of Houston, works as Assistant Poetry Editor for Gulf Coast, and serves as Editor-in-Chief of The West Review.
It’s the first time you’ve seen the sky
look like this: a clear cerulean, cloudless
and beaming light onto the hills.
The past is done with. The clouds hover
within you, a vulture for every heartbeat,
in search of the dead. And you’ve always
found a home in language,
but there’s so much you don’t know
how to say: how to describe the color
of this sky—something more than cerulean
now, as day begins to morph
its way toward night. Like the flood you feel
in your lungs, well on its way to overflowing.
So find a home in the flowing creek,
the one where you watch striders walk
on water, feel the wetness against your feet.
Find a home in this sky, all the colors
of an iris. Find a home in this body,
the only thing you can hope to hold onto.
We learned what it is to love—
only to find out that it demands ruin.
Lovers inevitably turn to corpses,
corpses turn to mush, bodies
liquidate—food for carrion
and blowflies. Or else they turn to ash.
We learned that to want someone
is to feel yourself fall apart.
Or maybe just fall. But love
is also birdcalls, the way you lift
your hands to your lips
and manage to make a song
of your mouth, of your steepled hands,
the way the songbird’s response
sets your eyes alight, its chirp
coming from one of the trees
that nearly burned down last fall.
This is love, too: not just the ash,
but something that lives on.