Ode – Sasha Leshner

and even if I have no
hunger for it
anymore, no
aching in my bones
no cravings, still
it is a tender thing to see
the boys nodding
and sliding on the blue
benches in the subway
cars or to find a wing
of waxpaper stamped
untaped and emptied
of the powder
I let possess me
for the better part of a year
discarded in the last bed
of wet tulips the ink
blown like pupils
shot out by dope
shot into arms roped
like catgut like violins
waiting in their velvet
hulls to be cradled to
be played and we were
just as patient with
each other’s sloped
and hollowed bodies
shipwrecked in the morning
halls of Grand Central
Station with slow time
halted like any painted
constellation so it was really
no surprise
to come to suddenly
in the daylight and commotion
of business hours
to see the cosmos
for the faded animals
studding the ceiling
and be reminded of our small
need getting larger
as the pain would start
behind our eyes
as it had bloomed from
Billie Holiday in every empty
room in all the old familiar
places that never
came unblurred for
her or you and I
am sure that I’ll be
seeing you
mistaking every heirloom
for every opal
of our obsolescence, though
our bones went light
from misuse, though we grew
fishtails of our hands and
wristbones, the salt
baths and plum vinegar
that still make me
think of winter
could never cure enough
or make brand new
the veins we yellowed
into saplings, lighting
the braided ends of our
senses and saying ​this will be
it,​ this last Havdalah, these are
the first three stars in the last
night sky before the Sabbath
bride lifts up her veil and
with it we’ll be gone
out with the hissing
flame but this affliction
is a prayer
I never learned
in a language
I could tell it
to the man still talking
to the curb in his sleep
his dog a little greyer
this year
I pass him
without folded hands
or canopy to
offer but I drop
to the blameless
scratch behind her ears
let her drool
into my hands