Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Fight by Kaveh Akbar

The Fight
by Kaveh Akbar

This should make me more worried than it does—you undressing
soft as a horse’s cheek, steaming like a stomach

filled with hot coals. When I move, I move penitent
as a viper, unbeholden to the laws of tact. I’m not sure

whose bottom lip is more pitiful—mine chewed nearly through
or yours quivering like a wasp. You’ve stepped

into speechlessness, though for so many years you carefully
collected languages. The word for fear in lapsed-Catholic:

Christ-haunted. The word for god in newly-in-love: yes.
How far can a mind wander before it’s simply gone? There’s rain

enough outside to soothe our lizard brains, which know
there are few predators in a storm. Impatience helps itself

to our rage. On the bed we cling to anger like sinking balloons trying
desperately to hold in air. I sigh. You wince. Despite our best efforts, mortality

marches us toward a cease-fire (at any moment, we could end up
crushed by a comet or poisoned alone in a castle). Dutifully

we move through the stations of contrition—your hand my belly,
my nose your scalp—until finally apologies spill

sticky out our mouths. We were both at fault. Our wounds
were superficial. We will work harder. Leaning over, you kiss my ear

and turn off the lamp on the nightstand, not noticing the big vase
where earlier, distracted, I’d dropped in a fistful of poppies petals-first.

I find myself attracted to the sounds in this poem more than anything. The alliteration and the assonance and the diction all work together so wonderfully. The final line "I'd dropped in a fistful of poppies petals-first." is difficult to read, but beautiful to the ear. Enjoy.

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