My will was just a constant cuckoo
by the hour I arrived, not mine
but calling me the epitome of waste.
He warned me toward him
by an inch of dangling wire
that charged each minute into noise.
I longed for him, not mine. I forced him
with my vision to sing on,
wishing he’d linger like a danger scent
so I’d know he was a danger.
Others would say: “we’ll pray”
“we keep you in our thoughts”
as they gnawed turkey legs
in plain view of my ravishing, not mine.
I pulled my eyelids off and coveted
this not mine bird.
Folding my arms behind me, I faked
withholding so he might nibble
lifelines from my palms
bitter as he was to circumvent
my body for my mind, to acknowledge
I was body first.
I let this brief olympics go till morning,
called him Mine teasingly
and made him think I didn’t want him gone.
But want in wasted times is not the want of life—
it fights the ground and sucks
at every thought a godly laxative.
Did I want his dungeon-yellow
to devise a new direction for my life?
A death not mine but
close enough to hear it as my own
and far enough to hate its mercy, too.
Elizabeth Metzger’s first collection, The Spirit Papers, won the 2016 Juniper Prize and will be published by University of Massachusetts Press in Winter 2017. Her poetry has recently appeared in The New Yorker, Best New Poets 2015, The Iowa Review, and elsewhere. She is the Poetry Editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal.