Part Waters (Two Of Cups)

by Daniel Barnum

how long away I was when what happened 
did. compare county paperwork to memory:

maybe I woke up just as hands crushed 
essence, cinched esophagus. did I know

and not, some psychic sense of rigor 
mortis catching me cross country as it set in

in her bedroom? rates of expanse: ten years 
from fifteen. how to calculate the lack,

solve for the exact date that I forgot 
the black of her hair. one month between

the day of and the day I hear. weeks 
I was busy breathing and the fact

of her was far off, but assumed to be 
breathing back. she spoke so low I barely

understood except her laugh. not sure—
did I leave voicemails while snail watching?

vacation’s skinny-dip baptisms: the beach, 
the creek, leeches risen out of river-

rocks to anesthetize and drink my legs. 
was she ash already or unidentified,

starting to decompose? before I found 
out, I felt her homegoing. telling tarot

on the backseat drive through graveyards split 
by highway. back east, all was water:

gravity racing ground toward coast. distance 
and time’s dials glowed blue in the nightlight’s

shallow. paper moon and fool—two cups 
reversed to mean parting—tipped out the deck

into a pile on the floor. through the door 
and the dark, I heard ocean swallowing its sting.

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