I want to know the unrecorded
trivialities, who you were
in the spaces between everything
you left behind,
the small moments when
you were not great or lost
in thought, but when you cut
the nib of the dulling quill
or washed your stockings
or gazed at a face with desire
that you were too tired to describe.
I want the moments of you
that were private then and are
irretrievable now,
the glances and gait and gossip and
the times when you could not fall
I want to bring you back from the dead for one
ordinary day,
not the days that others seek,
when you scratched the words
we have memorized fragments of.
No, I want the unknowable hour
when you wept over the young son gone,
the bills to pay, the play
undone, or laughed at the unexpected jest,
the whispered request, all
the minute things that also made you who you were:
the harried moment
when you did an act of goodness that others did not see,
or the way you peed or jerked off in the solitary night.
I want you with the greediness of the glutton
who can never get enough, but I want a meal of all
the things that history casts off.

I want you in the same way I want him,
for you, too, are unknowable
even though I have
sat across from you on bright mornings and late
nights and watched your wary glance.
It is possible to be near you and yet feel like
you are floating, like him,
in some dim and distant century.
Even when I think I have caught you
by surprise, you escape somewhere else
so that even the habits I do see
only hide you more from me.
The raised eyebrow, the groan, the solemn look don’t begin
to bring me closer inside or cut
through what you feel
you must conceal.
And even if I saw you in some casual hour
of some idle day,
when you are who you are
only when you know no one
is watching,
would I know you any better,
would something in your eyes
give you away?
Or would you stay
unknowable, too,
not wanting to be seen,
the you afraid of you?

Mark Evan Chimsky’s poems and essays have appeared in The Poet, Bard & Prose, Poetry for Ukraine, The Jewish Literary Journal, Kind Over Matter, Bullets into Bells, Wild Violet, The Oakland Review, JAMA, Mississippi Review, among others. Mark is a recipient of the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award as New/Emerging Poet.