Lips unused to Thee—
Bashful—sip thy Jessamines
As the fainting Bee—
Reaching late his flower,
Round her chamber hums—
Counts his nectars—
Enters—and is lost in Balms.
—Dickinson, Fragment 211
It is what refuses us.
We stroke along its granite skin. How slowly it comes, an edifice echoed from us.
Trace a name down its spine, call it Ineffable
as it sheers toward liminal night. A siphon of voices cast as solid absence,
those unremembered echoed back on us in an oblivious clash.
Wall. As dark. As rends. Extremities, the dearticulate, world thrown Negative of
Ever returning, a black pitched earthward and in, the widewise movement of the mind.
Lie by me,
place your vibrant arm
nearby, an effusion of black,
of warmth, the most improbable
confluence. Unificent in a field
of lunged blooms, spectral
horizons shot—we are not
intimates. It would be a wonder, the bare
graze, if it passed between us, as water waved between bodies, limbs whipped
in stifled crescendo.
An expanse, and deep. Darkling we meet its glitter and swim, the flashing
transluminous of a sea exceeding seas, swept to atmosphere and circulons of light
flickered loose, breathshorn skins and bowers
This wall, mirror
of us both and trace
of our touch, a pall—
salt of night
over the limpid tongue,
Bodies reclining in exasperant out flux, language hums in the chamber, ashes
over the earth in its own dust, and wakes
through the stone; we look
and find our names already written
here among the ciphers
Your name, remnant
of the self spread
We infer the body.
Here is your body
and another, still others
shed from themselves
Here in the black stone, we look
and you are passing on among the cool grain—
you are ever elsewhere, and we
Julie Phillips Brown is a poet, painter, scholar, and book artist. After earning an M.F.A and a Ph.D. at Cornell University, she served as the N.E.H. Post-Doctoral Fellow in Poetics at Emory University’s Bill and Carol Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry. Her poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Angels of the Americlypse, Columbia Poetry Review, Conjunctions (online exclusive), Contemporary Women’s Writing, delirious hem, Denver Quarterly, Jacket2, Mixed Messages, Peregrine, Plume, Posit, Rappahannock Review, Tahoma Literary Review, Talisman, and elsewhere. She currently lives in Lexington, Virginia, where she teaches creative writing, studio art, and American literature.