Saying hello to you
Even through steel barricades
Even with your face crushed
Your nose broken on the border
Bleeding with the nonchalance
Of a crossfire casualty.
Saying I love you
Even when our arms can’t touch
Even when they are handcuffed.
Heavy keys jumping on hipbone
Mocking our earnest confession
With a jingle selling repentance.
Saying “always” to you
Even when time comes punctuated
Even. Spaces. Between. Clock Ticks.
Blood, tapping veins in the night:
Counting out this mortality
Through organs, flesh, and muscle.
Through the steady drip of water
On the stinking metal toilet bowl.
Through the clang of open hatches
Closed hatches, meals, work, exercise.
Days tallied with notches and chapel.
“Always” makes no sense inside these walls
Time creeps forward into now.
Saying goodbye to you
Even in a set phrase or motion
Even with your back turned;
Our voices like Italian meringue
Crushed under the weight of
A guard’s fork, and eaten quickly.
Saying nothing any more.
Even when they remind me of you
Even when fists find my stomach empty
Only an open mouth, and gagging:
Like a cat caught my tongue and ate it;
My voice flapping limp against its stump.