EPILOGUES

The trick is to close your eyes 
(just a little) so that the patterns 
seem invisible, to un-train your ears 
and to forget the tunes 
you’ve heard before,
so that when the song reaches
its crescendo, you will have no questions;
the end will fit into the surprising inevitable,
the themes exposed in their pianissimo, 
handshakes that can double as goodbyes.

By Heidi Turner

VILLAGE BETWEEN THE ARMIES

If there are no more songs, 
will I have you? 
Will you listen to my story if my voice is hoarse; 
will you hold my body
when the smell of blood and smoke is still clinging? 

If there are no more melodies, 
no words for what we’ve seen,
will you hold me in the snow
until  sunrise, or until we fall asleep? 

This is the song I hum on the wind, 
and I pray that someone is listening…
remember us who sing no songs, 
tell our stories, even after your victory. 

By Heidi Turner

AGING

In theory, we begin to leave ghosts 
the moment a self of ours is shed 
from the surface and becomes the self
that exists in the past, 
and we occasionally see the selves again.

A self of mine is nursing a bloody lip
at the bottom of a slide, 
while I-Who-Was is practicing basketball 
at my grandmother’s,  
(as though the hoop is still there),  

and in fact, I am certain I have left many 
of me behind, in every place that held me, 
because I bumped into my own ghost, 
(in broad daylight, no less), vainly searching 
Hot Topic for a shirt in our former size. 

By Heidi Turner

PASTEL SOUL

Little lavender blooms 
that line the edges of your consciousness 
and frame your fears in quiet rustles,  

the waves lapping on the sand,
water brushing up to remind you 
to breathe in and release, an internal ocean, 

and, of course, the bright haze of summer
that matches the flush of your cheeks,
clouds hovering over a sunset that will soon begin. 

By Heidi Turner

ARTHUR

A crown pushed down on my head, 
my own sword pressed my shoulders, 
“Kiss me, your Majesty,” 
How could I but obey? 
I cross myself when I see her stretched 
across our bed, with the smell of a friend 
clinging to her hair, my fingerprints 
reflecting on the gold she wears, 
and I remember it, 
even from the secret berm 
where I await; they say I will return, 
and when I do, I will feel her hands 
resting on my hair again, 
the only crown I ever wanted to wear. 

By Heidi Turner

TWENTY YEARS LATER

I hope I forget you in the peaceful way,
no longer remembering the habits of yours
that bubble up in you-like situations,
that I forget the way you sounded 
before you started talking like this, 
and I hope you know that visceral 
feeling of smelling a passing smell 
has faded into a photograph of a memory, 
almost all the venom gone. 

By Heidi Turner

EXPLAINING SELF TO SELF

I’ve written the same song
seventeen times;
every version features 
different timelines 
until they reach the Center, 
the point of it all, 
the climax 
and parasitic denouement, 
every one of them ends, 
and all seventeen of me 
that lived inside those measures
waits for an irrevocable coda.

By Heidi Turner

MUTUALISM

The song still sounds like you to me—
And what of it? 
You thought I didn’t know 
that I laid the flowers down on a grave 
belonging to a stranger, 
you thought I’d forgotten 
that you and I do battle in the spring, 
that we have never fallen in love,
that you and I do not die in summer. 

There’s a quiet richness in the passing,
lifetimes that we spend looking 
for adequate words,
for flowers blooming, 
for the roses we tire of,
and yet I press them in the pages 
of our shared histories, 
and wonder if you wonder 
when we will meet again. 

By Heidi Turner

EVENING

The alchemists missed the secret
of transmutation that was hidden in plain sight: 
when golden hour comes, 
the river turns to perfect glass,
the concrete to marble, and the blood 
on the rusted train tracks becomes 
glowing, liquid copper,
and if one tries to argue that the hour fades
to silver twilight and finally to leaden darkness,
they would be returning to the proverbial cave, 
having just missed the secret of impermanence. 

By Heidi Turner

SMALL BEAUTY

I’m looking for the beauty that lives in the pinpricks: 
a single red spot that fills my fingerprints 
with rivulets, or the rivulets of oil that run
in rainbow corrosion into the drain—
my father told me I was growing up
the day I first watched a butterfly flutter
across my field of vision in fits and starts, 
pulling my eyes away from the ocean 
and into its orbit, a moment I’ve followed 
to bluebells and rivers, into the constellations, 
and finally, into this moment, 
the one where I am trying to tell you what it is 
I am seeing when I see the shine in your eyes.

By Heidi Turner

FRIENDSHIP

Mercy is a kind of whetstone 
that strafes across my spine,
sharpening my bones,
dulling my sense of time, 
and courage communes in silence
as you wash ashes from my eyes. 

The first time I see your kindness,
I disappear into the quiet, 
the tired stories I re-write 
are burned like incense on the altar, 
a vapor rising to the sky.

By Heidi Turner

GRIEF

It will alight on your shoulder 
at your first footprint on the mountain, 
it will light your way in little sparks:
 “You loved well,” it whispers, 
and it will be the well you drink from;
your heart will open again,
a flower in the setting sun. 

By Heidi Turner

FOG

Do you remember opening the door? 

Your eyes looked straight into mine
and they shone, lighthouse beacons 
over my then-buried soul, and you 
became my resurrection. 

 In my memory of the cloudy evenings 
and the mornings soft with fog, 
I smell the distant sea of ours and wonder
how the light in you has shifted, 

wherever you are now. 

By Heidi Turner

FOOLS' CASTLES IN THE AIR

In every memory of you, 
it’s only ever April.

The hope I misplaced in you 
lives on in every budding flower
and on every dew-leaden branch 
(in the past, you are the morning) 
and in the rustling leaves and
dandelions blowing and keeping seeds, 

I hear the wish you whispered 
in my hair before I walked away.

By Heidi Turner

DISSONANCE

The prison I return to is the one
I was told was a precious thing,
that the fragile bars were delicate, 

 “Do not disturb” the imaginary chains,
the imaginary locks, 
images I’ve painted on the see-through walls, 

 and standing on the rubble I wonder 
why it was that I wanted to believe so badly 
that I was willing to reconstruct a new cell 

on the same site.