Christopher John Adamson

Rita Hayworth comes to me in a dream.
She says, “Let me play my guitar for you,”
And does. It is a sad song, in Spanish.
Her red nails slap the guitar’s body
In rhythm and I move back and forth
Getting dizzy. There is also a tree
With a charred stump and wild branches
Of gnarled flame with, somehow, damp green pines.
“The tree of language,” she says as she keeps playing,
I can tell it is a kind of juniper. The flame
Moves back and forth in Rita’s rhythm
Coming closer to my face and my eyes.
Soon all I can see is this halo of iridescent pines
Like a consumption or some kind of warmth,
Somehow epiphany. It’s weird almost
When Rita kisses my forehead—I don’t notice her
Stop playing but the branches of flame don’t stop—
And Rita isn’t Rita any more, she is almost but not
             by the light of the flame I see hairy,
Thick wrists and red hair with cheap sheen.
Her eyes are milk stirred into coffee, sad
But staring unguided upward past my head.
What are you looking at, Rita? She clutches
My shoulders with both her large large hands
Her bicep muscles grip and tighten     What Rita
When she opens her mouth it is not her voice,
The tree has vanished, too, with all the former warmth
Like Rita’s mouth is an open vacuum. Then the voice:
An announcer in a thousand sports stadiums,
A man’s deep bass vibrato, physical, caught
On every hair of my body. She speaks:
The descent of thick damp air, tidal shift,
Shattering of glass like rain from every shelf:
“Demons from sky,” she says, “exile from rock.”

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