This is someone else's
memory. A bridge into
Constantinople. The woman
selling vegetables spread
on a blanket. The sun lights
the front of her dress except
the shadow that sits
like a child in her lap.
We can't belong
to one another more
than the sun that made us,
that shines down on the curves
and give shape to the earth.
How longing traverses
all distance and time.
Light playing games with the eye.
The cold asks a question
of the arms you wrap around yourself.
Someone calls you to come inside,
and worries you are slipping away.
You want an answer to offer her,
a reason as obvious as the moon.
But the sky tonight is built of small things,
no bigger than pinpricks, far away
and lying. All the cold can tell
is stillness trespassed by breath.
We broke into condemned buildings
scheduled for demolition
splashed walls with portraits and landscapes,
sculpted monuments and totems
out of junk that was left behind.
When everything was leveled
we stood on the sidewalk and called it
complete. We stared at ourselves
in the wreckage but did not
recognize each other yet.
Questions about the Modified Woman
Is it seen like the sun
where metal is inserted?
Did she do it to feel
Is it kept like a key
in a pocket forgotten
but always found when she needs?
Did she choose it herself
or be chosen from this
palette of flamingos and oranges?
What colors were decided,
and how were they chosen,
whether longly considered
or picked straight from the wall?
How did she shape all her scars
still unseen, or was each
drawn by bones that were broken,
bad loves, and the father
she lost in his drip
of morphine? How can she offer
lumps of sugar in coffee
served in cracked milles-fleurs?
Is it deserved, her radiant sun,
insects that hum, and her book
that falls open to glossy
pages spread wide in an atlas?
Will she find herself
in her map’s silver center
where the metal bead marks
a new intersection
of who she was born and who
she became, the ink
in her skin, constellations?
Todd Heldt is a librarian in Chicago. His first collection of poetry, Card Tricks for the Starving, was published by Ghost Road Press. Other things written under various pseudonyms have appeared in print, on the internet, and on movie screens. Since becoming a father his biographical statement has less time to be interesting. His work has appeared recently in 2AM Muse, Anti-, Black Tongue Review, Blast Furnace, Chiron Review, The Ekphrastic Review, The Fear of Monkeys, Gyroscope Review, Modern Poetry Quarterly, Requiem, Rue Scribe, Sundress, ThreePenny Review.