If I beg and pray you to set me free, then bind me more tightly still. —Homer
I'm striving to be a better astronaut,but consider where I'm coming from,the exosphere,a desk where the bluest airthins to a lip. Impossibleto know the differencefrom where I sit and space.I promiseI still dreamof coming back to you—settlingon your yellow for the kitchen.And we won't fight.Not in this manifest. Not over the crumpled bodiesof laundry. We won't rowover the nail polish, its color,the spilled sun. Inspirationis the deadliest radiation.It never completely leaves the bones.You know. From here.there are no obstructionsbut the radiant nothingness. An auroraborealis openslike a fish. This. To the pyramids, yes,to a great wall. And there you are,moving from curtain to curtain. O, to fantasizeof having chosensome design with you.But the moons over Jupiter. Butasteroids like godsdeadened by the weight of waiting. I rememberyou said pastelfor the cabinet where the spicerack lives. That I ought've picked youup flowers when I had a chance. Daisy, iris, sun.Red roses. Ultraviolet,the color of love(what else but this startles the air openlike an egg?).I'm really tryingto be better, to committo memory the old songs about the ground,to better sense your latitudes,see the corona of your face.Take your lightas it arrives. Earth is heavenlytoo. But know that time is precioushere. How wine waits years and years to peak.What is there to do: I've made loveto satellites in your name.I'm saying I don't knowwhen I'll return. Remember me, for here aredragons and the primitive song of sirens.Stars that swayelysian. Ships that will not moor, loverswho are filled with blood and nothingfurther. Who could love youlike this? Who else will sew you in the stars?Who better knows your gravity and goesotherwise, to catastrophe?I've schemed and promisedto bring you back a ringfrom Saturn. But a week passes, or doesn'tmanage. Everything steers impossibleagainst the boundless curb of light.Believe I triedfor you. Against space. Timetakes almost everythingaway. To you. For you.A toast to everything incredible. I almost wishI'd never seen the skywhen always there was you. Sincerely,
Copyright © 2019 by Keith S. Wilson.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Keith S. Wilson is an Affrilachian Poet, Cave Canem fellow, graduate of the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, and the 2018-19 Kenyon Review Poetry Fellow. He serves as Assistant Poetry Editor at Four Way Review and Digital Media Editor at Obsidian Journal. He has received three scholarships from Bread Loaf as well as scholarships from MacDowell, UCross, Millay Colony, and the Vermont Studio Center, among others. He has won a Best of the Net award, has been anthologized in Best New Poets, and was appointed a Gregory Djanikian Scholar. Keith works as a game designer and instructor in Chicago.
At first blush, Keith S. Wilson's debut book, Fieldnotes on Ordinary Love, is achingly romantic—lilting, lyrical, shaped by the tenderness of regret—but these are poems that speak inlayers, bridging the interstitial spaces between personal and societal longing. Whether describing a lover, a scientific concept, or an act of racial violence, these "fieldnotes" are simultaneously fantastic and grounded, celestial and corporeal.The stars look on as the speaker remembers the hips of a lover, just as the stars look on as the speaker is instructed by a policeman to put his hands behind his back. We are in an ordinary studio apartment in Chicago; we are in a Kentucky field. We are in a liminal corridor: between black and not black, pastoral memo-ry and Afrofuturism, the night sky and the cruel light of day, pleasure, and emergency .