Aubade with Wind Chimes and Hesitation
Head tucked between the pillow and its ragged blue case,
the dog snores more softly now. We fell asleep
sometime past ten. At some point, their dog
came in too, nuzzling between us,
so that our bodies were only a dog’s length apart.
They could have left at some point, but didn’t.
I woke up around six and, surprised to find them there still—
arm draped across the dog, towards me, almost touching
its left ear, the one that drifts downwards a little—I thought: we
are only one dog’s length apart. Last night,
on our walk, they said the wind chimes we’d made
from the rusted gears of old bicycles will remind us
this place, too, is an occasion. I was leaning against
a mailbox while the dog shit near a snowy curb,
one gloveless hand warmed by
the leash wrapped around it, the other
waiting in the air exposed for them
to hand me the flimsy bag once filled. I asked
which place, and they sort of cocked their head a little
and shrugged and said this place. How insufferably vague,
I thought at first, but now—just a border collie between us—
in my bed in the guest room of their childhood home,
I think it’s the only precision. An occasion. Like a spare room
you enter or find yourself finally in. How
that slightest touch of metal asks the wind
to speak, cleaving the distance between one lonesome thing
and what it can’t seem to stop being
drawn towards. I’m no wind chime. I mostly sleep with my hands
clamped tight under two pillows. All I’ve sacrificed
to avoid the embarrassment of affection, its obviousness.
It seems so silly now. This morning, when I first woke up
next to the dog, I propped myself up on my elbows
and looked at them—blue beanie tugged down
to their eyebrows, mouth wider on the left side somehow.
The dog sensed my looking; its eyes flickered open, then
it lifted its head a little and looked back at me,
and there we both were, blinking ourselves awake.
Noah Baldino is a trans poet and editor. Their poems have appeared in Poetry, Indiana Review, Black Warrior Review, and elsewhere. They currently live in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, where they are a 2019-2020 Stadler Fellow.