Etcetera

by Anna Westwig

Whenever you started a list, you always ended it with etcetera,
the full word each time, between your teeth. I fell,
hard, wanting to know the end of the list. I wanted to swarm
with description. Who was I but the port to your starboard?
I wanted to eat each strawberry whole. I wanted to press a rock
in between my ribs to fossilize it. I wanted to melt into the blue

sky with you, but watching you talk, you blew
right past me, saying you loved “my energy, my legs, spring, etcetera…”
I didn’t need a storm; I just wanted the wind to rock
me gently. But the lightning cleaved an oak and it fell.
And you called it exhilarating. You wanted a heaving starboard,
I wanted a gentle Atlantic and stars. You wanted to be stung by a swarm

of killer bees. I wanted to cultivate honey from a tamed swarm
in the backyard. I wanted tender. You wanted to be blue
all the time, like it was purifying, like the stars board
up Heaven’s shop windows each night. You’d cry, wail, weep, etc…
if you couldn’t ache. I loved you; you wouldn’t dream to fell
the darkness inside of you, nursing it in your chest like a rock.

In the geological record, we’d lie after Pompeii’s lovers in the rock,
but we disagreed on how to lock up our souls. You wanted a swarm
of earthquakes; I wanted gingham and Sunday; you wanted poetic and fell,
to howl like the coyotes in the woods with yellow eyes that were blue,
sizzling like an open vein in the night, mourning Winter, mourning Spring, etc…
You’d gasp: “the train of time is leaving and all the stars board

without you, my love.” I thought it was you watching a star, bored,
fleeing dawn’s bloody jaws. Surely, you were making up rock
& roll lyrics for kicks. Long lost love, despair, grief, suicide, etc…
So I dreamed us up paradise, with milk from the streams, and a swarm
of smiles on our honey-smeared lips. The skies were always blue
on the beach, where we met each other on the water and fell

into the sea, breaking each other like a mirror, carving up the fell
of our reflections; that sickly pelt of adolescence. I turned starboard,
I turned port, trying to divine whether I was skyward or in deep blue.
The sky was buzzing purple and I wondered if I’d hit my head on a rock.
Were the stars drowning in moon or wave? I could be hiding from a swarm,
you could be hiding from me — my hands sifted sand —, running away, etc…

Now we both fell trees, and we both are seamed in rock.
You turn port, I go starboard. On the open sea, we are stung by a swarm.
We wrap our pinprick wounds with salty blue gauze, we cry; now we both say etcetera.