the reclaiming of the dark hours
arches across the rosy-eyed lull
flourishes of sacred geometry
stirring what once felt like
the night would go on without end.
There’s a sweet pain in awakening.
The voice of half-hearted
or for the beloved dreaming
that got defaced by the truth.
The inert limbs slowly embracing
There is that moment in turning
from what had once meant something
towards what is promised,
when the squaring of shoulders
exposes the symmetry of sound
catching up with the light,
have been too dismissive of wisdom
coursed through the flesh.
It stretches behind you like wings.
Flight is nothing but the feeling
the sky becomes right-side up
Sometimes we turn to the darkness
of oncoming, anticipated light
not because it is preferable
or necessary, but because
it comforts and gives a sense
of belonging to the things we carry
and wonder if they have a place
among the changes that are coming.
even those of what had never been
good for us, those that had been
slowly killing us the whole time.
Realizing they are lost to us
after all the pain of coming
to terms with their presence
we’ve contrived from the ways
they had made us suffer is
a fear and a melancholy of its own,
for a time outweighing our relief
for not having to suffer anymore.
Like the passing of a hero,
and searching for the next
difficult thing to live for
so we could feel keenly alive.
When they call it self-preservation
we think about staying the same.
And then we call it a loss,
shedding the things that only
weigh us down. But to live
is to not drown, and at some point
we realize we are surrounded
by water. We get high on breathing
because the perilous tide outside
us is made of the same stuff
as the part liquid our spirits are.
We forget that we are souls
that have bodies. Our intimacy
with gravity and falling belies
how majestically we can rise
without denouncing the ground.
the blue hour draped around you
like a shawl and all your
motivations a little disheveled.
what could have been overcome
lost in rarely charted waters,
and with edges worn off by waves
that arch like the wings of fate.
It’s hard to tell from looking at you
where you really started.
and part sunken treasure,
No one thinks less of a jewel for
forgoing a little clarity
for coming in to possession
They make a pretty pattern,
hanging from your neck like amulets
and bringing out the depth
and they couldn’t even if they knew,
the birth you gave was going
to require a daily reimagining
Every night a different sky.
It’s something you realize for yourself
when you find that the sun
rises on your right shoulder
And the shawl of blue hour
fades into a night that hides you,
It is kind to you because it
recognizes the way you gaze
at love: as if you expect to drown
and are giving it instructions
on freedom that comes in waves
and an innate promise that
sometimes lies about distances
and tastes like saltwater.
Somewhere, a part of us knew
that the days we were burning
would be the past of a life
that was coming. A time merely
to look back on, and love,
the way we understood it then,
would glimmer like beads of dew
in the wide open daylight of
what the future that arrived
revealed to us about ourselves.
That the stories we repeated,
raw and unresolved, over smoke
and expensive noise, would
later be just one of many filters
to a vision, and we would be
our hearts pulled in a direction
for reasons we cannot enunciate.
We still believe in what was
promised us back in the days
to lament, no stubborn mistakes
that stick to our perceptions
like paint on silk. We ask all
these illuminated questions
would redeem us, although
they do, but because all things
and it’s how we get reminded
that we speak the language
of the universe that we are
we faithfully make our way,
stumbling, the way untrained
faith sometimes stumbles,
to chase a bliss that someone
once told us we were worthy of,
believed otherwise, if it were
something we merely wanted
instead of a prophecy waiting
Bequests from the Departed Light
It’s not the poems the stars write
that give the night its soul
stirring between the trees
it’s a fragment of the blue
coaxed from the heaving tides
from passion’s forgotten oceans
and remembering having once
was a lonely furnished room
lit with your tamed vices
it’s the texture of that moment
when it came up in conversation
how best to spend the small hours
trapped between your skin
to be the estranged daughter
of the song no one else but you
Iris Orpi is the author of the illustrated novel, The Espresso Effect (2010), and two books of collected poems, Beautiful Fever (2012) and Cognac for the Soul (2012). She was an Honorable Mention for the 2014 Contemporary American Poetry Prize given by the Chicago Poetry Press.