You used to tell me, imagine a color you’ve never seen.
I was fifteen, learning to drink on sloe gin, shy and strange at the salt lick of your neck.
You were always trading in the impossible —
the unstoppable force of afterclap, the immovable object of desire.
We transgressed ourselves in my room and ate my father’s banana pancakes in the morning.
We were children pretending to be pretending to be children.
You traced my bones and named them as you went: scapula, tibia, ulna, clavicle, rib,
until I felt invented, newly minted, unequipped to live.
You placed the first tab of acid — copper pulp — on my tongue
and that confetti rained down on everything.
We climbed from my bedroom window into the noumena.
You fed me cotton candy and the world began her long strip tease.
Even between my teeth you weren’t secured; you always slipped away
into the future somewhere, to your next lover, Cincinnati, pregnancy.
Later, I thought of dusting myself to reveal your prints.
I considered chalking the outline of my body.
You were the color of the sound of a bell.
You were the color of the smell of water.
I loved you like pornography, like a fable. Soma, soma, I’d whisper
into your hair, as if it meant something more than body.
Why I wanted you, why you left, has everything to do with algebra: x has to stand on one side
to be solved, and the grammar of eros compells us to parse into subject and object.
You exist, then as now, beyond my eyes,
as imagined and real as mathematics.
Ask St. Anselm, loosing God upon the tender universe,
conceiving over and over of that-than-which-nothing-greater.
Shannon Holman, New York, 1999