(For Deborah Digges)
“I thought I could grow old here,
safe among the ghosts”—Deborah Digges
I had a big love who liked to jump
out of airplanes. Did it twenty-three times,
all before he was even twenty-three. Every time
he’d go (sleek body swept up in the slipstream),
I’d give ultimatums to the sky, rack up
agnostic deals to the unfaithful blue.
But the best part was when he’d come home,
wind-burned and vibrating, pull a note, a note
from his pocket and read me what I would have
read if he had died. And I liked it, words
folded into my obstinate palms like I had won
something this time. Then, when he found out
that mainlining cocaine was cheaper than
paying for plane rides and I became a parachute,
I began making my own notes. Notes for him
to come home, demanding notes, loving ones,
and they worked. He flew in through a window
and handed me his head on a platter of notes,
what remained of the altitude’s gifts.
Today, a news notice told me that a woman
whose words I loved, whose sound rung out
like an air-horn in the spine, was found fallen.
And it’s no good. No good at all. Shuffling I go,
and want to bring all these pages. Come, let’s
curse this gloomy going, let’s hold a handful
of her notes like holding hands. Come let her
welcoming sans serif-fingers make a sort of harness,
some magic flying thing, let’s thank some left-over
god for what’s left, these notes, these words,
this inheritance of risk.