Claire Schwartz

Citizen's Guide to Childhood

                                                after Terrance Hayes

I am asking for the clouds I am convinced you keep
to lend the morning, but you breathe me a mouthful
of bitter salvation & it stings like the twang of an infant
on soft dawn. Think of Orpheus coaxing a rock
to dance. Think of Billie washing speakers. Cuz I don’t
stand a ghost of a chance with you. Even now I am craving
the word occlude but I can’t make it sing, so I just whisper
to myself & let small puffs of frost ghost it on its way.
The place you come from never was there. It’s at Nowhere
just behind the place you think you are going. When you
get down on your knees, we are the same size & I can see
the scars on your belly, the opposite of where graves
have been, a thin pink line stitching me out. Not your absence,
but the space of my absence in you: that’s home to me.
Not memorial but memory; the shade cast by shadows;
wanted, alive. When salvation finally releases your arms to wrap
me, there is somewhere you can’t go like the name you slipped
between body & soul. I want to tattoo you on my face
so I can regret permanence for a change. I want to take
your head between my palms and tell you there is a time
when today became the horizon yesterday blossomed like faith
and released you

Claire Schwartz lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Her work is forthcoming in Tuesday: An Art Project.

“The front porch is home to rocking chairs and a hammock and paint stains from when the mural couldn't hold all our art. It has the best view of the moon, especially on Thursdays and with friends. We share it with a dog named Panda. It's where we sit to let the world wash itself out. But all that is many, many years from now.”


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