It Won't Be a Very Happy Poem

By Fatima Espiritu

I have this problem and it's called I
love you too much. You who
they found in your step-
father's closet with a shot
gun by your hands. You
from whom puns will take
rhythm by Right wings in crippling
flight. I have this

fear that it won't be a very
happy poem. To be alone
in old acres of semantic

satiety—when a word becomes
just its sound and the sound
feels like a foreigner. You

who were a poem—maybe
now death's just a stanza

break where we have to walk
inside the white space
with our candles and no words
until we come

to new syllables—all the things you said
and are still saying,
yelling—for god's sake,
just mention my name.

I have this problem and it's you
being an italicized thirteen, this age
of the changing voice. Did it crack
while you screamed away
life? Were you embarrassed,
if it did? Were your hands anything

you liked? The cuticles pushed
back in the way that we do with dying
things. How we decorate hair, praise

its kind-of-resilience. How our skin cells
dust up the cupboards, coat
our eyes with red rhizomes of allergy.

We've got this problem and it's called
metonymy—how your death is now
the death of everything you were supposed to be.

But really you're a kind of tan line,
an economy that we put to sleep
on a middle-income pillow and some legislative

leaps. It's strange how poetry is asked
in tragedy or
dedication to become our autumn
—to undress the niceties of slowness

before the shivering, barren lungs.
It's strange how you're someone's

favorite poem. How you're undressing,
still, with your mouth bewildered
at the warmth of the littlest of lights.