This is the official blog of Northern Arizona slam poet Christopher Fox Graham. Begun in 2002, and transferred to blogspot in 2006, FoxTheBlog has recorded more than 670,000 hits since 2009. This blog cover's Graham's poetry, the Arizona poetry slam community and offers tips for slam poets from sources around the Internet. Read CFG's full biography here. Looking for just that one poem? You know the one ... click here to find it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Today, I will wash my bedsheets

Today, I will wash my bedsheets
it has come that time in the laundry cycle
when towels and sheets are pulled from their homes
added to the general population
and thrown into the soap for purification
the sheets were granted parole last time
pleading their case that of all the remnants of you:
the abandoned clothes,
the unfinished chapstick,
the notes on the back of receipts
too far from the trash can lid to lift up from the floor
the calendar still pausing over the day you left
the unread, overdue library books
the unstamped, unsent letters
to friends I’d yet to meet —
of all these things either since remedied,
expelled or ignored for later contemplation
of them all, only bedsheets can still claim proof
they held you next to me,
still bear on strands the isolated molecules of your scent
bloodhounds may use to track you
and bring you back to my arms
when time and circumstance are ruled inadmissible by the court
your departure premature
on these sheets, hide cells of your skin
that forensics investigators may one day
reconstitute into a clone of you
and ask under hot lights
in a good cop, bad cop interrogation
what gave you reason to love me
what right you had to reach through bone and flesh
cradle my ventricles and aorta like newborn puppies
breathe into them the taste of your smile
that infected the rest of the victim’s circulatory system
and now leaves me unable to move
without thumping your name
into my organs 80 beats per minute

today I will wash my bedsheets
because the moths who share my room
are beginning to ask questions
the generations of them who last heard you laugh
all have died from old age
their sons and daughters are soon to retire
they tell their children
they heard stories of a raven-haired creature
who used to sleep through the morning
disappear in day
and play in the night with the creature
who still remains here
the one who whispers her name in his sleep
tries to weep so soft
we must strain to hear him

today I will wash my bedsheets
is what I said yesterday
with the full conviction it would come to pass,
but the stress of laboring for daily bread
and the nonnegotiable duties of nighttime contemplation
left me too exhausted to fulfill such trite obligations —
yearning for you is a full-time hobby for the most fervent devotees
akin to those who attend sci-fi conventions
with pointed Vulcan ears surgically grafted
or fully functional lightsabers peace-tied to Jedi belts
lest a rascal child should grab it in haste —
for all the anime fans who cosplay as Akira to the grocery store on Sundays
or Civil War reenactors who pretend to disbelieve Appomattox’s surrender
or Renaissance Faire nobles who strut the mall with longswords sheathed,
I will delicately affix the decals
reimagine all the famous battles with new plotlines
but diligently reassemble their conclusions in perfect detail
to keep our timeline pure
this attention to each feature of our story
makes it impossible to worry about trivial matters like dirty sheets or laundry
when there is so much more reliving to do

Today I will wash my bedsheets
because yesterday I said I would do so
and if I failed,
I would instead collect all your love notes
and file them into a box
in autobiographical order
so I knew with which order truths and lies
were told, believed, exposed, forgiven, forgotten and laughed over
from our first kiss to my last touch
as I left you staring at the stars —
and if I failed that
would donate all your leftover shirts to Goodwill
hoping other girls would feel finally what love was
soaked in our shared heart rhythms
baked into the threads
and passed on their lovers
like a whispered game of telephone —
and if I failed that
promised I would stop thinking so hard for you
that my skull pounds with ache by end of day
leaving wine, ibuprofen or poetry to unshackle thoughts —
and if I failed that
to remove your name from the immediacy of daily vocabulary
so if a stranger were to ask for a word
that begins with an “A,”
your name would not be the first in my lexicon —
and if I failed that
would cease sending you daily love letters —
this one is proof I have yet to begin

Today I will wash my bedsheets
is what I plan to say tomorrow
because today, I plan to spend one more night in your arms
hold the sheets over my open mouth and breath in
so I remember what it’s like to kiss you
then breathe out so you remember me
strip naked and roll into a ball so you’re wrapped around me
tight like you used to be
before you bid goodbye to this room —
tonight, I will unhinge my eyes
let tears pour out in my regret
that I did not strip these sheets from the bed
the moment I last saw you
shove them into your arms and told you:
as long you keep these sheets unwashed
I will always be with you
my tears and sweat are held here
whenever you need them to remind you
what a boy’s heart feels like
when dripped out day by day
given in fair trade for the right to love you
and when you miss me
wrap them around you tight
and wherever I am,
my arms will curve inward to keep you warm
hold them over your open mouth and inhale
and remember how I kissed you

1 comment:

Treehugger93 said...

This is beautiful, and you are beautiful for writing it. I hope you're doing alright, and wish you the best of luck getting through this. It doesn't sound like fun.