ONE GOOD THING ABOUT YOU IS YOU’RE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR LIGHT REFRACTION
for Ryan Joseph
by K. Holden Pumphrey
Where I grew up, in thunderstorms
everyone comes in from the rain out of breath and says
Oh my God it’s like a WAR out there!
People in Chicago get prideful about surviving the weather
It’s fun, because you still feel like you survived.
Which is a good feeling to have.
You won’t remember this, because it was a dream,
but we descended from the bus
in some French-colonized place
and I didn’t know you
but I think we’d both given out some kind of war cry that day.
We cross the street together
as if we knew ourselves.
You know how I talk to myself when I’m alone or
what I say in my dreams because you’re there.
And we talk about the new music in Cuba,
which is no longer colonized, supposedly
So in these types of thunderstorms, or just when it rains
in San Francisco, we have fragile umbrellas.
Then, we decided we would stop using umbrellas and
and I knew it would combine to be like this:
Some things are important to notice, or to discuss, like
the color of whatever color your eye shares with some other thing,
like pond-water (I know it was harbor-water)
your eyes were lighter than?
I could tell you the dying words of Anna Pavlova
and you wouldn’t laugh at me.
As if ordinary love weren’t quite so explosive. I’m supposing
This is an actual thing, what I’m whittling for you.
It takes some work and I died,
to make it.
There was an upwards,
a splendid rocket
or bottle rocket.
you’re drawing on my skin.
Perhaps how you say
splendid is the best way
we’re deer against the field
and each thought
about having you and me
like that is a good way
to make me think about survival.
It’s an inclination and I can justify it.
the inclination of love can justify it.
The bus is coming, we can see it
and hear it and smell it
and we line up.
We make sure we sit together.
It’s pure and from scratch.
This connects us
it makes me to cry
and I need to repeat your words
the way you say them
because they keep
me feeling like we’re the same person
(“One Good Thing About You Is You’re Always Looking For Light Refraction” is printed here today with permission from the poet.)
K. Holden Pumphrey is a poet and visual artist who was born in Chicago, did some growing-up in the Caribbean, and currently lives in San Francisco.
Editor’s Note: I have been the editor of this series long enough now that, in addition to seeking out the work of new poets to share with you, I am able to go back through and revisit previous poets who I adore and whose work deserves to be shared and shared again. K. Holden Pumphrey is one of those poets. You can see her previous entry in this series here. Today’s poem combines a clear narrative – which I love – shrouded in abstract notions and imagery with moments of heartbreakingly beautiful language, such as “We cross the street together / as if we knew ourselves” and “You, influence, / you’re drawing on my skin.”
Want to read more by and about K. Holden Pumphrey
K. Holden Pumphrey’s Official Website