does thinking narrow your way in the portal or widen it?
a small cake with candles, everyone at the table blowing
is a lonelier memory
a narrower portal than you admit to.
a portal is a straightjacket, a candle in a tin can, a spider web
in a Coke bottle
here, in front of the parking garage, you sit & cover your face with your hands
this is how to be anywhere you want to be, not where you are
‘others’ is everyone walking around you on the sidewalk
you are afraid you’ll wake up one day & find
that ‘others’ will be who you’ve become
where you wrap a wide ribbon around a sharp blade
& hold the ribbon’s end
watch the knife spin free & fall
where it will
observe the direction the knife points
& what may have been marred in the falling
divination must have some risk
for you to trust where it sends you. this morning, it’s pointing
—savoring your saliva after eating a piece of a dark chocolate
—urinating easily, now that the long illness is over
—walking to the corner store in your sweats & no one looks, neither
frightened of you nor wanting
your face to fill for them some need
in The Lover, Marguerite Duras describes her protagonist
as having been “thrown ahead of herself”
before she was 18. already having taught herself
which feelings were commerce
if demonstrated in her eyes
luring men to her with a portal that offered contagion
they couldn’t resist.
you see The Lover on so many of your friends’ shelves. you don’t
ask them why.
spin the knife in its ribbon, ask again, this time
it lands pointing to a risk—to lure from inside your face, a face
you haven’t seen in your mirror. though it showed itself
in droplets of rain
on your still-dark window this morning
before they became a sheet of water & dissolved.
a portal is the corner store where you go in the morning
disposable gloves on, mask well-secured
the college professor turned refugee
turned shopkeeper holds
in both plastic-gloved palms, your plastic bag of two apples
as though irreconcilable damage would be done
to you both, if he were to do less.
a portal is a raw egg smashed on the sidewalk
you don’t notice
& track home on the sole of your shoe. only later
you see the shape of it gathering dirt
more than will any other part of your carpet.
a portal thickens with use.
BART isn’t loud enough, even right overhead
for you to call out to no one
& not be embarrassed. a portal is the sound
of your not-calling-out
which hasn’t the limitation of your lung’s air
to make it stop. a portal is only one of the apples, the one
you accidentally drop.
it’ll bruise to an over-soft brown, unless
you eat it right now. right now it’s still nearly firm
as you bite, it’s more than a long way
inside of delicious. you ask yourself
how far inside delicious
you let yourself go. at his register
weighing your two apples
the shopkeeper’s eyes told you
you’d drop one, you see it now
in hindsight, his face
wasn’t such a dark-bruised anonymity after all