She left the painted leaf
between the covers of naked lunch
and her name inked on your skin, pinned
into you with basement-light clarity
By the time she called you only to hang right back up
she had become buried under the black permanent line
traced with insistency
The breath of pages dropped into my lap, pressed blue
like the ocean.
I asked: what’s the Puerto Rican word for ocean?
he said: she would have kept it in her hair
(if she pulled her hair back)
instead she left it in the pages of your favorite book
you gave to her
perhaps so that it could fall into your lap
as if she had whispers, as if she had
so that you would touch
what was not given
at the dead air that comes
after hearing the voice
you never wanted again:
what’s the Puerto Rican word for betrayal?
Blue, the color blue
ninety-five percent of the surface of the world,
most of the sky; blue—
what she left
for you, to find, in finding
with the dead dying leaf
in the turning pages
I watched him keep
what she put in place
for the hindsight, blue,
the foreigner, blú,
the backwash, the stab back, the whiplash
traded in for a skinny blond to be
The water: blue.
Her bloodlines: blue.
Silver bullets: blue.
Page turned: blue. Paper cuts,
blue. Glue on acrylics, also blue.
The skin under the line over her name
blue, blue, blue.
Blue like the ocean.
Blue like the word for
like the color
like the collar
like the eyes
of someone new.
Previously published in The Legendary.