Marrying the Violence

I have taken the blueprint of your back for granted
as if the sidewalk were not an altar
and the sound of the shower not a hurricane
bearing down – there is no ceremony for this.
the night goes on in spite of the rain, much
like the mail. make me a bullet of a mouth,
sex love and money on the radio. not a bullet,
a gun. not a gun, a harbor. to hold you, against
this, against the night with its sirens and batons,
I fly down the block to you and the lights, in
harm’s way, all sixteen muscles of my tongue
pulled, meat for the men who don’t love you.
my love, ink is fool’s armor. your good luck
works on no one in uniform. if it’s true
that bone is harder than steel, make me
a building, a garden of calcium
and mineral in bloom, deadbolt
of a spine, you coming home whole,
the apartment of my head on your bulletless
chest / each time the cry of fight goes up
on the street I remember your hand, the man
rocking back on his heels, his mouth
a sidelong oval shocked into quiet
at last, his pale hand torn from your forearm —
love, lay your burden down, here, tell me how
to make this body a safehouse and not
a prison, how hold your hand when its every lifting
is an act of self-defense, how take the knife from you
and not call it murder, or surrender – the cabdriver,
the cop, the woman gripping her purse
on the L train conspire — you are already
a weapon. I am no building, no shield,
less than cotton between the violent night
and your skin, less than teeth
ground down to bonedust
small, white as I am.

– Marty McConnell


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