We Imagine After It —DANIELLE JONES

We Imagine After It

 a handwritten note in John Keats’ copy of Paradise Lost


The man I love says
we’re going to need
a bigger ocean—

 He doesn’t say it. He types it,
because this is how we talk.

This is how we talk
because he’s far away.

When he was close,
I was afraid to love him:
our thighs touching
under the table—lightning
fire, burning this tree
from inside. The shock

of my body beneath him,
beside him, on top of him—
how everything animal in me
came when he called.

So I loved him from Berlin,
from Newfoundland, loved him
from other men’s beds.
(Flooded one, burned the other.)
And he spread out in my mind
like a field with no edges, my dreams
descending like starlings,
starving for harvest. This

is a safe distance, I say
to the shiny screen

but the shiny screen
is a stone chapel in Paris, and I’m always
on my knees. I’m flesh
and sin, and he’s shadow
behind the mesh curtain, lips
I barely see moving. We speak

in the first electric lights, in spray-painted words
smoking up a white wall. In the crackle
on the line when it’s storming outside.
Maybe we should hang up?

But we won’t hang up. This thing
we hold, holds us—a wild dog’s
tether, a houseboat drifting
in the middle of our shape-
shifting sea. We’re frustrated waves, loving
and leaving the moon, the pause
between ebb and flow. No

distance is safe. No
space between us.

There isn’t ocean big enough.

x, I say.

xxx, I say.

And he says, k, ok,

come home.


Danielle Jones holds an M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Massachusetts Boston, and is program coordinator for the Writers House at Merrimack College. Her poems have appeared in Best New Poets 2014, Beloit Poetry Journal, Southern Poetry Review, Zig Zag Folios, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of a 2014 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award.

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