Stan Sanvel Rubin
The radioactive one, the one
sitting alone at the bar
because she clings to her grief as if it is
all the grief in the world,
is the one who attracts you,
the way the scent of certain flowers
proves irresistible to particular insects
who don’t know why
they’re drawn to pollinate
or maybe a colorful predestined death.
It’s a style of living much like dying.
You go where you shouldn’t go
and you know the mistake you are making.
In fact, the mistake itself,
the awareness of it, is what
takes you there like a scent, or music.
After all, what’s the difference?
Music stirs the corpuscles under the skin
and perfume stiffens tiny hairs in the nose.
Everything alive is a nose, an ear.
Sometimes it’s just being there that matters.
The regime of uncompleted letters
is over. They have festered in the desk,
a growing pile of pages resembling a nest
a bird might lay an egg in and watch it grow
as I have watched for months, for years,
these intended explanations for friends,
this softening of the blows, never sent.
What gets in the way is history.
What gets in the way is the clarity of words
looking back at us with the certainty of the dead.
We see only that, Rilke says in the Eighth Elegy,
contrasting the freedom of animals whose eyes
look out while we look in. Reading that poem
will stop you writing poems until you mean them.
Salt hands on skin,
salt rings on sand.
We are tinged by salt
so many ways,
salt tears, salt words,
the rust that lurks
under every love,
less than two percent salt
but blood depends on it.
It’s hard to understand
how water lives in us
and washes nothing clean
that is not salt.
About the Author: Stan Sanvel Rubin's work has appeared in such journals as The Georgia Review, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, and Florida Review, and most recently in One, Hamilton Stone Review and Red Savina Review. His poems are forthcoming in Shanghai Poetry Review and Agni. His fourth full collection, There. Here. was published by Lost Horse Press in 2013. His third, Hidden Sequel, won the Barrow Street Poetry Book Prize. He lives on the northern Olympic Peninsula of Washington state.