R. Nemo Hill
The Blanket Was a Blue One
It could seize anything. There was another world below its surface.
I wouldn’t have recalled the salvaged facts
but for the austere beauty of that cave
in which, together, naked, on our backs,
we’d briefly sheltered from them.
He was brave.
He’d pulled the covers up till we went missing,
then huddling close, he’d sworn, I will protect you.
“Can’t you hear the waves,” he’d whispered.
Night’s vow had been, I don’t want to infect you,
but dawn had drawn the bloodstream to the ocean,
and he was right—that outer surf might ruin
this inner stillness with relentless motion.
He knew each passing moment was the true one.
His name was Joel. And the blanket was a blue one.
I’ve kept three sheets of notes near thirty years,
jotted remnants from that morning-after:
whole body wept—was how I quick-sketched tears
which launched that night’s debauch. He’d feared disaster,
and apologized with such abject abandon
his penitence grew carnal, shaved and scarred,
my notes again, impressions, echoes, random,
the more it hurts the more it gets me hard.
He’d courted pain so deep that when it stopped
he had to learn again to go on breathing;
to shoulder once again the load he’d dropped;
to raise, from inhalation’s stripped up-heaving,
this tabernacle of abolished leaving,
this nave his need had conjured, blue, above me,
this tent in which, a child again, he’d prayed:
pull my hair and tell me that you love me.
He’d laughed, then shushed himself at once—.
were quickly closing in now from all sides.
Our threadbare cotton cave leaked tepid light,
casting shadows, turning games to lies,
reducing rescue to one drunken night’s
It’s shoe time now. Where are my glasses?
“Did I mention I’m a writer?” he’d said, kneeling
to sign his book, as clouds replaced the ceiling
for his dazed descent from tenement Parnassus.
Perhaps he’d had no name, and had to steal one.
I slept till dusk. The blanket was a real one.
(East Village, New York City—1989)
R. Nemo Hill is the author, with painter Jeanne Hedstrom, of the illustrated novel Pilgrim’s Feather (Quantuck Lane Press, 2002); The Strange Music of Erich Zann (Hippocampus Press, 2004); Prolegomena To An Essay On Satire (Modern Metrics, 2006); When Men Bow Down (Dos Madres Press, 2012 ) and In No Man’s Ear (Dos Madres, 2016). He is editor & publisher of of EXOT BOOKS, about which you can learn more at www.exot.typepad.com/exotbooks.
This poem is not previously published.