One Thing and One Thing Only

by Miranda Merklein

You emerge as words black as milk,
a veil lifted by my self-same hand,

uncorrupted by time or transportation,
Adam of alabaster, carrying two clay

urns of water above
all ground and sea, floating toward me like a coil

of driftwood I once,
as a child, left uncombed
by the beach's salt stairs.

Fair youth of Alcibiades' turned cheek,
it must not be

my move but yours

because—Nevermind, our eyes match the morning
Apple, a core you so carefully chiseled

away. Hand me these slices
of flesh you once fed to the beasts.

I will bake you
with salmon

I will smother you
with garlic

until you reappear.

A tree-house above, built somewhere long ago,
a table set neither by you nor—

I, your made-self hands,
matching shells or desert fossils

from Pangaea or Syracuse; it does not matter,
for what are the chances? You write

a song, and I promise
to sing it someday.