W E Pasquini
Some nights are not quiet, although the woman can't really call it noise that pulls her from her dreamless sighs. Rather, it's almost a buzz, but softer—something wanting recognition, pardon from the weight of sleep, or maybe even escape. There are sounds that she recognizes as the language of the dark: the throated cough of someone struggling with a dream; sheets sliding across a body scented with musk; the tile roof cooling; and a whispering of leaves against a screen. This sound is not that.
In the morning, she finds a tiny body crumpled on the sill. Its green wings have lost their
pale jade; perfect stillness colors the empty places. She remembers a name:
Actius luna. Silk moth. Her fingers touch a vein; dust flutters like moonbeams. Someone opens a door behind her, and the gust of air lofts the nightling back up and out the window. Her hand reaches out as if to catch the disappearing bit of gray. Then she stops and drops back from the skin of light chasing the window frame edge.
Love & Smoke & the Fume of Sighs
The page is blank. Foglio, I think, then, sfogliata,
Italian pastries. I remember sipping un caffè corretto outside a shop and watching through the glass where a man shaped dough. His hands, brown and strong. Fingers, long and thin. He tossed puffs of flour across a board and then clapped white breaths into the air. I ink that memory across my page.
My ex tells me that trees are dying in the park where we used to walk the dogs. Someone girdled the trunks with copper nails, stealthily, sneakily, and with malice of forethought, he needs me to know as if those three words score deeper than the act.
I want to tell him that's not how to kill trees. I want to tell him he shouldn't call. And, I want to shout, Don't hang up. But all I can think of is Shakespeare, how love kills, and the girdle of burning skin alive with tiny currents zinging 'round my waist.
Doc Jones slides his hands over unbroken skin, then pulls down my paper shirt. Zoster
sine herpete, he says—the invisible kind of shingles. No rash, just pain.
He washes his hands and dries them on paper towels that fall to a steel trap bin. Then, he
scrawls across a pad. Script on script, when what I really want is skin on skin.
I drive through Georgia, the paper mills souring the air while a man on the radio talks
about deforestation and how mankind will die under a mantle of heat. He asks the host,
What can be worse than that?
I change channels until I hear the clear voice of a sax.
Back home, puffs of snow deckle the edge of woods, and I imagine deer stomping their feet and little puffs of steam escaping their mouths in time with the blue notes on the radio. I think of a lover's breath shaping vowels and turning consonants to psalms—even as his hands shaped our future on my skin, a future as forsaken as his name in my mouth.
I want to ink his name into my skin and keep it safe. But I can't forget the thought of
words lifting off books and floating away with no one left to remember the sound.
The weight of loss burns like charcoal in the air.
W. E. Pasquini's poetry has appeared in Magma, Cider Press Review and Fourth River, among others. Pasquini has been nominated for a Pushcart and has been a finalist in various book and chapbook competitions including: New Rivers Press's MVP; Concrete Wolf Poetry Contest; and Frost Place Competition. Pasquini completed an MFA in creative writing and studied film at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida.