[Stutter]

I said love because it came closest said leave

because you did we do this peeling off each

from each each from suddenly other said

come back but meant don't go I said dead

and meant every one of those instances of

vanishment how the dead swim away from us

in time their tide their closed wooden boats

I said tide but tide was never right said tide

because we have no word for that kind of

unforgiving away I said tether when I meant

anchor when I meant stay but when I said stay

one thing I meant was against confusion

against yet another loss I meant two-faced

Janus January's god of fallen gates of trying

to look both ways and when I said farewell

I meant again don't go but it was too late I was

here in the hall this tunnel full of mirrors glass

and strange made-up faces and when I thought

funhouse I meant its opposite I meant this

rusty carnival town the men so sad they paint

their smiles in place they paint their faces

white paint their eyes wide and full of crying
 

Leslie Harrison, "[Stutter]" from The Book of Endings. Copyright © 2017 by Leslie Harrison. Reprinted by permission of University of Akron Press.
Source: The Book of Endings (University of Akron Press, 2017-10-06)
More Poems by Leslie Harrison