Kiki Petrosino

Vigil

You ask what I’m not a liar about. It’s dark.

From bed, we watch some passing headlights rake

the windows back. I tell you how I see myself: alone

with my guitar, bright strappy heels, a bit of sweet pea

twisted through my hair. But my fingers slide right off

the strings I say & pull the covers up. They just

won’t move at all. By now, you’ve spun deep into the quilt.

Your arms are gone. I’m telling you the truth I say

about the guitar. I’m sitting up now. Almost, I can feel

the lacquered wood against my chest, a resonance

of thrumming spruce. You stir, then clock

the space between my hands. There’s nothing there

you sigh. Why make things up? So I look again.

Left arm, right arm: crescented. There’s something here

but not an instrument. It has some weight.

I notice how the quilt is tucked as if the cradled shape

could drift apart like antler velvet. I’ve never held

a form precise as that, a living gift in bundled cloth

nor felt its pulse go zing against my hand, & then—

my hands feel warm. More truly weighted than before.

I glimpse a momentary face. Tiny zero snugged against

my elbow’s dark. I wrap the quilt. I keep

it close. All night, I try to count the hushed electrons

blooming in my brain. It’s dark, it’s dark.

I sink into a dozing dream of water, rippled leaves—

the little face is sometimes there & sometimes not

& here, or there, I almost say I wish, then bite

my lip to force it back inside. I sit up like that

till morning comes to turn our bedroom white.

Kiki Petrosino is the author of two books of poetry: Hymn for the Black Terrific (2013) and Fort Red Border (2009), both from Sarabande Books. She co-edits Transom, an on-line poetry journal. She is Associate Professor of English at the University of Louisville, where she directs the Creative Writing Program.
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