Prize in Memory of Marie Bullock, 2017
To a Lover, Miles Away
by Sanam Sheriff
Another sky opened into a black
umbrella. Your face dimly lit
across a tall ocean. I’ve been counting again-
Each day a petal and a bouquet
between us. No vase. Night falls
for memory and there you are
again: fingers passing through your hair
like a season. Plane ticket crushed
in the front pocket of your denim shirt.
Vision blurs. There is no after-
only yesterday’s shadow falling
forward. The almost of your smile
on a stranger’s face. A trick of light.
And what is the mouth but an open
grave? Your name a dead, dangling
thing. Coffee on the stove and its steam rising
from the ghost of your fingers. No rain.
Nothing to dance to but your absence
filling the room like a song. And what is longing
but breath spooled into a prayer?
Each lung filled with time
and time again. Winter chews
through all the good yarn and I stay curled,
as you would say, into a seed. The telephone
a warm palm against my cheek,
and your silence limping through it.