You once told me, the moon is made of salt,
that all the tears that ever were are kept
hidden there, disguised as dust. You spoke
matter-of-factly, your pale face made sanguine
by the dying sun. With deft fingers you stole
dew from the grass, bade me drink from your palm.
Above us, fronds of fern and palm
swayed like dancers, grains of sand and salt
working their way between the blanket we stole
and the promises we had not kept.
I understood, then, how to stay sanguine;
my heart beat faster with every word you spoke.
You plucked the petals from a flower, spoke by spoke,
and pressed them like kisses into my palm,
each one as soft and sanguine
as your lips. I tasted honey, tasted salt,
wondered what it would be like to be kept
by the woman I stole.
On bare feet and keeping to shadows we stole
like thieves out of the garden; we spoke
softly, and only when necessary. We kept
silent, my breath caught under your palm.
You asked me once, what is honey without salt?
Only sweet. You were my salt, sharp and sanguine.
Forgive me: I could not remain sanguine
after all. Your hair was a silver stole
across your bare shoulders. I licked salt
from your skin, seined words from your breath; you spoke
my name, teeth against my palm:
another promise never meant to be kept.
If I had known, then, I would have kept
quiet, would have watched the sanguine
light crest the garden wall at dawn, palm
shading my eyes, dust in my throat. You stole
peace from my heart when you spoke
the truth of honey and salt.
You always seemed the sanguine one; I am the one to salt
wounds. I kept my heart in my palm; I never spoke
how willingly I gave what you claimed you stole.
This month’s poetry slam form is the sestina. It’s harder than it looks, if you can believe that.