She can’t see the unicorn, though she knows
it’s there, tethered by a golden chain, tucked
under her left shoulder blade. She sits up straight
but it’s more than a matter of good posture;
this is not an easy chair. Beautiful, yes, the oak
dark with a look of wild honey, the tapestry
at her seat and back worn and intricate:
a tall trunk of pomegranate, each leaf
a spine of thread she seeks with her fingers,
now and then. She last sat here years ago
when she considered herself still a girl.
Back then she threw herself at it, eager only
to be seated. But now she notices,
her body electric, how gingerly she sits.
She can feel the give in the wood, the slight
movement in the joints, how it could all
collapse. She keeps her feet firm on the ground
and wonders whether she will ever give the chair
her full weight. Will she always need to calibrate
how much it can take? Now she knows she wants
the chair, or, her dream that the chair is where
she might belong. She can’t see the unicorn,
though she knows it’s there; she leans back against it,
hard. Anything to muffle that still small voice.
Oh, I want you to be generous
and free with me,
like we know the end
of our day at the beach is near,
and we don’t want to leave.
We pretend we can’t hear
the adults calling,
we sit for a moment more
in the moat we have dug,
the grit of sand and salt
sucking against my skin,
as insistent as the years
we don’t yet know
are already here.
As thin as the trickle
from the kitchen tap
when the pump fails
or the power’s cut off.
Last week it burned.
Now I sit
raising my face
for a kiss that never comes.