Alexis Almeida

 
 
 

Poem in Which You Become the Hands on my Stomach



                                                                        after Renee Gladman


 

Today the lake was blue.
Today the lake was blue
without knowing the lake
was a lake. The lake was blue
without knowing, the lake
was blue without knowing
the lake was blue and
blue at its edges
and blue in its waves.
The lake was blue without knowing
blue and without touching
the blue or the green, the lake
was blue without seeing blue
or seeing above the blue
at its edges, and seeing also
the green at its edges, without seeing
the waves crash against
the yellow sand, without
seeing the danger in the waves
crashing against the yellow
sand, and the animals, like
crabs scurrying toward the waves
and the people walking like
nothing was happening and seeing
the blue of the waves and
thinking how beautiful while all the while
they were turning toward some light
in the sky. Today the lake was blue
and the people there were
walking and looking and
turning toward some light in the sky
and the animals were moving
toward the crashing waves,
and without visually seeing
the blue turn to green,
the memory of the blue
was sitting inside all
of them, it was sitting inside
them like something
someone had mentioned about
the sky, like the imprint
left on a body when it has turned
but is no longer aware of its turning,
(how could a story just
end otherwise?)
and this was one form of life turning
into another.
Today the lake was blue
and without knowing blue
the lake had turned
green, and the people
were walking and the
crabs were rushing
toward the crashing waves,
and the memory of the blue
was like an imprint on the yellow
sand, and the sand was like a memory
someone had mentioned once, it was
the passing of so many memories
into the light, of one form into
another, so the waves were there
and the blue was sitting inside them,
all those who were no longer
present in their turning, and we were
walking and laughing and thinking
how beautiful, and without
knowing and without thinking
nothing was happening, we were turning
toward the lake at its edges toward some other
light in the sky.

 
 

Poem In Which 30 Years Pass By in 4 Months




 

You built this one for yourself
with twigs. You are standing at a threshold
to the right a beginning
to the left an end.
You watch mouths closely, you walk
across a city listening to the same song
on repeat, you carry a loose shell
in your pocket
for months by mistake, you take
three long breaths
over the course of a normal conversation,  
you habitually place your shoes
against a friend’s wall,
you make a distinction between
what is awkward
and what isn’t right, you watch a feeling
disintegrate into a petal’s  
vein, you read
the sign backwards in the photograph
to decipher it,
you recount one small
thing in a story while forgetting another,
more important thing, you
watch a flame lit
in someone’s living room
under a tall stack of books,
you call an email
a miracle, you move closer
to the pattern
on the wall,
you feel vengeful toward an ice cream truck
circulating in your neighborhood,
you feel that each thing you do is new
and also the same,
you love the feeling of hands
on your back,
you fall in love with
the distinct stillness
of a carpeted bedroom,
you imagine the way a list
could overflow the walls
of this writing, could
erode the small shape
that encloses you
for a time,
you step into the
now-future like a
leaf being kicked
into the air, you let
certainty be confused  
with the crisp weight of decision,  
you fail to see
what is there,
to see the love you failed
standing beside you,
you have all that
you could ever need,
you dream you are in
the sixth grade
memorizing a line  
of Shakespeare,
you address the flower
to be alone with it,
you let weeks pass
between speaking a language
that once belonged to you,
you try to end something without
finding something new
(then you find something new)
you write a poem about
the non-appearance of words
rather than a body’s non-appearance,
you spend a day
sitting solidly
in the wind, you spend a summer
this way, you are
defined by a coastline
you can’t see, you hear
certain voices so clearly
through the others, you
call this the
year of nights,
in a year without
days, you are afraid of forgetting
how a certain feeling settles
so neatly in your muscles,
and your lungs, and you
haven’t written it
and that’s not something
you’re going to do
or think about doing today.

 

Alexis Almeida grew up in Chicago. Her recent poems and translations
have appeared or are forthcoming in BOMB, The Brooklyn Rail, Prelude,
Bone Bouquet, The Elephants,
and elsewhere. She is the author of Half-Shine
(Dancing Girl Press, 2016), and the translator of Florencia Castellano's Monitored
Properties
 (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2016) and Roberta Iannamico's Wreckage
(Toad Press, 2017). She now lives in Providence where she teaches writing.