Copal

there’s a familiar unfamiliarity between us
or perhaps it’s an unfamiliar familiarity,
the reverberation of times together;
the way you held my hand so tightly
after a long and intense joint therapy
at the end, your arms around me, you saying I love you;
later, that echo again, at dinner, then later
walking your dog, who I had missed so much,
when thinking that perhaps we were through,
realizing that in a breakup you break up with pets also
so that early in the evening, arriving to your house
when he greeted me in his total energetic exuberance,
as I was kneeling in your entry hall, holding him close
and scruffing his back as you went to dress
for a date that was not a date, picking out burrs
from his uniquely kinky fur, then, tears came, gratitude

because it wasn’t a breakup, it was something
beyond, unexpected, beautiful, unknown,
like the flower on my desert rose that hasn’t blossomed
for the 5 years I’ve had it, until this week;
like seeing you, so radiant, earlier, in our session, struggling
to bring the truth of your body into existence,
like feeling the sheer physical pleasure
of myself in alignment, of my edges being solid,
energy running up my spine, and simultaneously,
the barely defined path forward, hovering
in the space between us, fragile and unstoppable both,
something beyond the immediate past, new and old all at once
something with no label, starting to be.

Watering plants on my patio, I reach down
to the feathery leaves on my copal tree,
the miniature of the ones we saw on the mountain in Oaxaca 2 summers ago,
many small leaflets, slightly green,
aromatic, leathery; I crush a few between my fingers.
The sticky resin on my fingers, fragrant,
reminds me of afternoons in our hotel, your sap on me
the limbs of our bodies connected; we have
put this aside for now or forever, we don’t know,
the rightness of that, the truth of it in my body
shocked me out of unawareness.
Bringing my fingers to my nose, I inhale,
the fresh scent of the copal leaves greener and brighter
than that of the burning resin, tears of the gods,
that exude from the trunk when cut.

Smoke rising from the charcoal in an incense burner
is the path we are choosing, transcendent and transitory;
your radiance and bravery burned me earlier.
What was before has to die, to be burnt into new fragrance,
for me to be whole, for our connection to be completed,
to open between us something unknown
and known, completely new and older than the day we met,
where perhaps we can both, finally, be safe.

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