SVEA BARRETT-TARLETON

  

Obsidian

My father once showed us a rock that looked
like black glass. He turned the shard in his thin
hands, in the sun, so we could see. "Obsidian,"
he said. "Don't touch the edge, it's shattered,
it'll slice you." It was the darkest, darkest thing.
I couldn't see through it. I had to reach for it and bleed.

A man I once loved also loved the word obsidian.
We had other favorite words together, like the time
I wrote him that my son and I watched grackles pick
at the edges of snow. "I love the word 'grackle,'"
he wrote. When he first said he loved the word
obsidian I thought he said oblivion. That was months
before he left my life and edged back into his own.

My oldest son always wanted it darker, his dreams
disturbed by too much light. No nightlights, only
room-darkening shades, a towel against the crack of light
beneath his door. He'd have no shadows to shatter his
obsidian dreams. He needed the dark not to see the
spiders that crawled from the edge of his ceiling,
the faces with no mouths, fingerless hands.

Like the kind of darkness I wanted with you — obsidian night —
so sharply dark we'd have to use our hands and skin to see.
Dark words formed between us but always I dreamed of more
touch — lips against my neck, teeth testing shoulders, palms
brushing the hairs of my stomach, fingertips sliding deep into
the perfect oblivion of darkness — obsidian erasing inhibition.

Didn't you want it too, my love, my unlover, the one
with whom I spoke of love but kissed only twice?