*On the unrequited love of Turner’s assistant, Hannah Danby Commissioned for the Getty Museum, spring 2015*
I tie my life to the mast of your brushand ask for the salt’s forgiveness.A hundred tourists are caught in my throattrying to speak the toneswith which you stroke.
Red: I love you sorely.
Gold: I am not good enough to leave her for.
Copper: I am your long offering, your secret wifeless bride.
White: I know your body only as its shadow. You do not know mine.
Silver: I will never take your last name.
You, Master of the plastered cracking sea,Master of a natural disaster’s epiphany,Master of coral, ash, cream, and river bream,Master of the century,Master of me.
I want to be morethan the loyal sorter of your oils,the soiled dress you press againsta bookshelf of bound metaphors,our clasped gasps shaking those spines from their nests,all the Larkins above us falling to their deaths.
We should’ve beenamongst the greats.We could’ve beenup there with the classics.
(Dear Philip, I ask the poet in you:What is worse? Being in lovewith someone you can’t haveor being in lovewith someone you can haveonly in secret?)
I want you to readnot just the subtexts of my flesh.I want you to read morethan just between the linesbetween my legs,unbeknownst to that blonde dawnwho rises daily from your sheets,her ceaseless love like a sun always beating mefrom the east.
I want to have you like Warhols sell to warlords.Like Balthazar had a bucket list.But I know there will be no ending to this suffered coveting.
Her body is yoursand your body is oursand mineis nobodies.
So forgive me, Master:To the screaming waves you conjure,I imagine youlosing her.
Forgive me:The flat across the street is on fireand I want to saveno one.
Forgive me:Hera should’ve written Europathe poem that showed herno mercy.
Forgive me:Browning should’ve prepared for the hell of infinitywhen she began to count the waysshe loved thee.
Forgive me:I want back those passwords that sprungencrypted from your lipsinto my lungs.I hereby reverse the cursed worshippingof a coffin built for two, buried half true.I have forgotten you. I do not rememberthe smell of your turpentine neckline,your kerosene scent carried through the ventslike heroin in a forearm’s dent.We never met.I did not let you sleepon the moving sheets of my silver screens.There were no second thoughts.I was never your one of a kind.I did not write your nameon my father’s arm. I did not wantto know your daughter and son.I did not think about bearing you another one. I did not let your legendary thumbstouch the tips of my unsung ones.I did not come.Your voice was nota soundtrack for my blood. Your voice could not make medie forever. *Your voice. Your voice. Your voice.* There was never a first kiss, regardless.You were not guilty.You thought only of her, forever.It never hurt. It did not touch me.I was safe. I did protect myself.The scar was so small.I was not a drifting ship dipping into tortured clouds.I did not look at my empty handsand think of white wolves dying in the snow. There were no other womenbesides her.She does deserve you.She is worthy of your hands.She—I did not think cruel things.I was not ashamed.I will be forgiven.I never told you I loved you.You did say you did too.I do not remember.We did say good-bye.We did finish this.Our bodies never brought us up againnor did our pens.Red:I loved you.Gold:I was not good enough.Copper:Your secret.White:Your body. Not mine.Silver:She’ll take your last name.Black:Black.Black.Black.Black. *Black.*
I repeat the needed mantra,like opera needs sonata,I am your coda, etcetera:
The life I will never have with youwill be the life I will forever have with you.
The life I will never have with youwill be the life I will forever have with you.The life I will never have with youwill be the life I will forever have with you.
*Amber Tamblyn is an author, actress and director from Los Angeles.*