Not nostalgia but the bluer salt of longing, not sentiment but the smutted sky raining bitter sediment, not our winding blunder down into that wound, not the ash-riddled grotto nor the blood-orange blown-open
Not the mineral rash’s voice dubbed across the final unspooling reel, not that, whatever promise the book held, not what she said or he did or they might next, not that, nor a flitter of birds, hands—lifting a cup, flipping a page, tucking a strand, nor the ear, behind which, filling with each sweet rising note or tinkling descent
Not the delicacy of a single wish, nor the now-cracked face of a once-ticking, once-pocketed watch
No filament long enough
No longer meshing, days before and those after, teeth of a zipper left to gape
An idling car, a parked pick-up, who hides in plain light who hides and why, cloaked in a troubled forest of unsayable tint
And which human desire does this resemble, which cosseting vest to cross the heart, which chilled sweat, which strait-jacketed vestment, which surely-numbing drone between temples
Faith in what
No walls, no shelves
No end to the well’s filling, the far-away sea’s waxy surge in a hole dug by anyone no matter, a relentless urge to pick the itch, the ooze, the scab, the meniscus of every hour finally spilling over, over, over
But sound, but imprinted air
No end to the fraught tingle of phantom-limbs forever-after-not-but-there
Splinters the alley’s new stuttering currency, pocked, crumbling, indiscriminate coinage of returning light, triage of needling memory, a narrow strait to navigate, some beast, uneasy passage of meat into pure spirit, and every anguished ether-shard hive-swarming then hushed
Not silent but charged: listen...
Every letter, accounted for but in a different more urgent order
"It astonishes me, really, the many ways in which we're vulnerable. 'What's Left' arose from ongoing brooding over various instances of violence, violation, misconduct, and degradation (physical, emotional, environmental, etc.), both close to home and afar. Of course, I'm similarly amazed by the capacity for human resilience, and (sometimes) heartened by how a word might spark the tiny flame that fuels an eventual blaze."