Evening Lounge

after the painting by Brent Lynch

The humid nights are best and worst, best
because the birds sing at two in the morning when
you cannot get back into the other world, worst
because it is the moist heat that makes the skin supple,
makes you want to rub against someone else, a woman,
and there is nothing but the long list of lost chances,
things you could have said, perhaps the simple question 
of will you sleep with me so that it is not just you
and this shell of a home, this place where it feels
the walls are another layer of my skin, and that is neither
best or worst. It is the holding of the dead stink,
the memories that was over him, holding them back.

It is the utter singleness of being the only person
here, the way the thoughts think themselves down to
accepting that this is really just me here wondering who I am,
just me here wondering why I am awake at two,
which trigger it was, knowing all the time all too well
the way the war of life is connected to the nervous system
of the world, the ganglia of our shared horrors, either
mine so large, or so people tell me, and here it seems
to be the membrane between the skin of my bones
and the skin of this home, the absorbing shock of space
that gives when the memories burn their way in or
out of me. I would lie here wondering how to tell her
I am wrestling with the angel, wrestling with memories
in the crevices and cracks of my body, of how I feel
right now, what it felt like then, in those times, and I am
glad she is not here, and I wish she were here, and she
has no name because this is some woman I do not know.

I practice in the silence of my thoughts the different pitch
and rhythm of how I might ask will you sleep with me
afraid of what to say should she say yes and this decade
of my monkish life should lie open and I have to say why
I am sitting on the edge of the bed, why I have woke her from
the sweet smile I assume she has when I assume her horror
is smaller than mine.

Afaa Michael Weaver, “Evening Lounge” from The Government of Nature. Copyright© 2013 by Afaa Michael Weaver.  Reprinted by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.
Source: The Government of Nature (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013)
More Poems by Afaa Michael Weaver