[Their bodies small as lashes]

Their bodies small as lashes

at this distance, I watch the men

working on the church tower

across the street, curling slowly

down the scaffolding.

I've gotten close enough to you

to see the scar on your tongue

and the way your jaw shifts

when you are really listening.

When I first saw your skin

was losing its pigment,

the melanin dead or dying,

a case of vitiligo you blame on

years of too much LSD,

I understood why you never

accept a compliment.

I know that the dark gray hair

at the nape of your neck

is like charcoal for a fire

but also a shadow

of your exhaustion.

I know your father is dying,

that no amount of bread or cheese or Burgundy

can heal the pain that's budding

inside you like a blight,

and I know your narcolepsy

is your body telling you

there's only so much you can take.

I know you are the tiny silhouettes on the horizon,

the way they lose their color to become

critical figures in how we orient

ourselves as the world turns into

something bigger than our days,

our dyings, and our deaths.

I know I can't ask you

how many selves

you see yourself having.

But are they sequential—

a gradient of yous?

Once, I looked so hard

I thought I saw an opening—

a darkness gathering in

your brow—but it may

have been another

shadow, or a wound.