At once

“…My happiness dissolves and yet endures:
I wither and I flourish, both at once.”
~ Louise Labé, “Sonnet VIII,” trans. Jean Morris

Where is there a word
to mean both

and not merely one,
which hides a gleam

that flashes on
when the life sap thins

and hesitates? Where
is the sound to melt

whatever might need
disarmament; a pocket

in the air for the aftermath
of slicing onions, crushing

garlic? There should be
a word for both act

and aftermath: the tear
and the trail it leaves,

the kiss and its evaporation
from the still warm mouth.

The plate and its shadowy signature
pressed into the tablecloth.


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