Flensing words, slicing deeper: all, nothing,
red to redder. Their skin, paling to nothing.
I speak today but you hear yesterday.
Black lilies in the chill of nothing.
Drifted apart, the two halves reconcile.
Yellowed, whitened. Older. Both stitched in nothing.
How many words have we lost to morning? Shredded
syllables sparring for sound. The nothing of nothing.
A coated voice, turquoise and calm, spreading across the room.
Buttered light. Pleasantries, unfolding. You, being nothing.
The language of night sleeps unformed in my bed.
I remember your hand on my cheek; flesh forgets nothing.
* * *
A near-ghazal, “Black Lilies” first appeared in ISACOUSTIC* in January 2018.
This is a very evocative poem, particuarly the following line: “Black lilies in the chill of nothing.”
The language of Robert Okaji teases, pleasant puzzles emerging as I read, reread, project possible connotations, ultimately relaxing into not-knowing (but definitely not “nothing”!)