Two Poems
​Kinds of Light 

Let me begin with the glittering stars. 

Outside an abandoned garage in Whitehall, NY, 
            the moon saws the windshield, 
                         catching the pine-scented air freshener 
trembling from the mirror 
                                    as I dial the radio to a station 
where all night lovers in the Midwest 
            phone in dedications, 
                         their voices thick with longing. 
Last night, I lifted my hands 
           off the wheel, closed my eyes & sped downhill, 
the road rushing up to meet me. 
                         I imagined you were there, 
           watching the white lines tick down.
Now, I lever the seat back until I am
           nearly horizontal, 
                                    watching the lonely 
late-night shoppers trigger the sliding doors 
                         of a low-rent supermarket 
across the street. A blinking sign, 
           a deserted lot. 
                        Everything dead. 
                                    I wonder if states away 
your heart contracts & quickens 
                                                like the wings 
           of a hummingbird, 
arrhythmia fluttering until dawn
                        as you chase whatever dark 
swims in you. 
           Last winter, you leaned against the bridge 
above the river’s vein carving the city 
                        in two, as close to me as that 
                                                thrifted faux fur coat 
I breathed in— 
                        the trapped stench of Olay & hair spray— 
as you told me your wife was in love 
                        with someone else 
& I wanted to hold you all night 
                                                until you disappeared, 
                                     light enough to float like pine ash 
           to the rocks below. 
                       My voice slid sh sh sh over the icy pavement 
           as sleet began to blind the passing cars. 
As if holding on were an art, 
                       a chorus of yes & yes & yes,  
                                                then no, no, no, no
We cling to what we need until we don’t. 
                      When we jump 
dirt cracks underfoot. Even the grass cries 
           as it’s trampled. 
                                  If there were a way to step 
inside your mind, 
           I’d cast for ghosts.  
                      I think there must be two kinds of light: 
           one that glows inside an empty room 
left ajar at the end of a jet-black hallway 
                      & one that sputters, naked, 
                                                out in the open 
like a bare bulb 
           buzzing over a cement floor. 
Here, there is little light & along the shoulder, 
                                 a lone hitchhiker glides, 
           nearly invisible. In this remote town 
the gas tanks are blank & empty. 
                      Somewhere in the woods, an owl. 
           When the program ends, the news comes on. 
I turn the key. Tell me I’m going home. 


When I sharpen a blade, drawing it through 
            a diamond-edged V, 
                         metal grates like new love against an old marriage 
& I remember that once you lived with a woman 
           who I do not know
                         & though you wish your past were unmarked, 
a field without fences, 
           I know her face flips through your mind 
sometimes like a coin, two-sided. 

She breathes between us, proof that matter, 
                        what has been lost, 
           never disappears but finds another home, 
that sorrow & joy, 
                        like the twin stems of chromosomes, 

           can rise up through my skin like black-eyed 
poppies—stubborn, perilous, & beguiling
           in their red petticoats—& flutter at the mercy 
of what binds us. 

                       Don't think I don’t see her 
when you hold me.  
           Don’t think we’re totally free. 

When my grandfather died, my mother hid his ashes 
                       in a hummus container and carried him 
           around in her purse.
The truth is you will always hold her against you 
                       like this, as if she had died. 

           Tell me that the vowels of your name 
have a half-life, time to dissolve 
           into another element. 

                      The night swallows itself in the hips 
                                  of a wine glass. I pull my shawl 
across my face, blinded in the kitchen lights, 
                      & your figure, airbrushed, 

almost disappears. The blade gleams silver-sharp.  
          We split ourselves apart & cleave 
that half in half & then that half & the next. 

          Be cobalt for me. Be uranium. Be the body 

kept until it’s after-flame. 
                                 Let our feet stamp the dirt 
& our mouths make the air. 

JOEY KINGSLEY earned a BA in English from the College of the Holy Cross and an MFA in creative writing from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is currently a PhD student in English literature and lives in Rochester, NY. 

The Adirondack Review