Alexis told me
she didn’t want
to be married anymore
while we ate pizza
at the pizza place on Chavez I had been wanting to take her to.
After a year of feeling the dark bags of silence she turned over
and spread across the floors of our home this was not a surprise.
But it still hurt.
Afterwards we went home
and cried a lot and laughed some
and ate chocolate ice cream on the couch and then she went somewhere else.
There is more to the story but not here. Not right now.
I went to two movies today.
At the second one
I ate a watermelon salad
while watching dirty men
move through a moving train.
My teeth felt so soft
and the inside of me was passing
through a long tunnel.
I started writing this poem
while still in the tunnel.
It is light outside
but I am in the tunnel.
There is a ballet happening
and everyone watching
an empty spotlight.
Inside the forest inside of me
is a house with a man inside of it.
There are other houses throughout the forest,
which once housed neighbors
neighboring the home of the man.
But they have all moved away
and the man is surrounded
by all these empty houses.
One day a woman moves into one.
She just shows up.
She sends a bird from her window to his, carrying a river stone in its feet.
He sends the bird back with a polished acorn. They send gifts back and forth
until one day she comes over to introduce herself.
They talk and laugh.
She goes back to the house she stays in.
A day or two later she comes back
and again a day or two after that.
Soon they are together every day.
Soon they sing together and cook together
and walk through the woods together.
Soon she stops going home to her house.
They sleep in the same bed.
He paints pictures of her where she has red hair
because he has red paint and she sits still
with a smile like she is watching a secret
form before her. She undresses and he moves
the wet brush across her back.
She sits quietly reading on his couch holding
her ankle in her right hand and then
holding her right hand around his left
Soon it is her couch too.
She has trouble falling asleep,
she kicks her legs restlessly.
He has trouble staying asleep,
waking up gasping for air.
Their arms find each other. The owls circle
silently. One day she is gone.
And once more it is just the man in the middle
of this forest of abandoned houses.
He sits with a stack of firewood and matches,
wondering which houses
are worth burning to the ground,
wondering if any of them are, and if so,
if his house should also burn.
Anis Mojgani is the author of four books, all published by Write Bloody Publishing. His most recent, The Pocketknife Bible, is a fully illustrated poetry memoir. A national and international Poetry Slam Individual Champion and multiple-time TEDx Speaker, Anis has been awarded residencies from the Vermont Studio Center, AIRSrenbe, and the Oregon WITS Program. His work has appeared on HBO, NPR, and in journals Rattle, Forklift Ohio, and Bat City Review, amongst others. Originally from New Orleans, he currently lives in Portland, OR.
Photograph by Christie MacLean