Adam cannot be adam.
I kept you both at the same time in order to tell the difference Adam the signified Adam the significant one of you was sleeping one of you walked into your sleep Adam the mechanic Adam the pallbearer I kept you both alive in order to write in order to fold a thing up to be another thing getting anything to be inside anything In this story I fall in love with both men named Adam. I am prone to sinus infections. Adam works in a tarp factory. The other Adam keeps a jar of ten-year-old water on his shelf. I mix antibiotics with whiskey and wear braids in my hair. The jar of water is a gift he tells me. Adam wants to have sex all the time. But Adam prefers to sleep. There is a cat and sometimes a dog. Adam's piano takes four hours to tune. The piano tuner's wife is a fortuneteller. Adam gives me paperback novels from thrift stores. We drink margaritas that smell like Lysol. I move into Adam's house after I stop having sex with Adam. The fortuneteller says he is a crab and he is a goat and I am a ram. There is something growing in the jar. I have not spoken to Adam in over a year. Rams scare crabs but crabs scare easily. Adam prefers to work twenty-four hours a day. The cat brings fleas into my bed. I paint the fireplace white. The fortuneteller says goats and rams will fight like cats and dogs. That's what you can expect. Antibiotics and sleeping pills. I ask about the jar. What is living inside. Adam says it was a gift and Adam doesn't throw away gifts. The piano weighs a thousand pounds. Adam is not a replacement for Adam. Rams eat goats and goats eat crabs. There is no dignity in anonymity. What can you expect. In this story I cannot remember his faces. In this story all I see is the face. It is a gift. I had a life outside the garden (perspective) I wrote on how many adams it takes to remember the hole in the donut the apple in the dumpling A bag is not exactly a face from memory. So I started with a bag. A face is memorable. As a bag is familiar but not as easily remembered as an apple core is not exactly similar to the peel of an orange. I started facing the second day. The second I started painting. I opened the bag. Peeled the orange. Next to two daffodils. A jar of water for daffodils. A bag for an apple core is nothing but a peeled surface. On the day I started the daffodils is the day I looked at the bag facing the daffodil and the daffodil facing the peel and so on the same day the daffodils face the apple and then the orange the next day. I started in exactly three or four days. Drawing. Five days. Surfacing a look. From looking. Now flies flying over. Flies surface over the opening. Open as a bag that is open. As a face opens. Exactly familiar with looking. It is exactly as I look that every face remembers starting with a bag. A surface. A grounding. I remember the fifth day coiled near the orange peel. Now an apple now is made bruised by remembering. Flies coming that come the sixth and seventh days. As they are. As everything starts to face me. On the last day as I start to stare I remember. An orange is not an apple exactly. Drawn from memory. A jar of water breeds ground. I knew in order to write to draw points in a system the love of naming must be lost on adam. The night we elect our president. I leave Adam's house in my pajamas. I drive to Adam's house. Adam is waiting for me in the kitchen. We kiss for the first time. (For a long time.) I say I just came from Adam's place. Adam says I taste like artificial grape jelly. I can't believe I am standing with Adam. (After such a long time.) We have just elected our new president. I tell Adam it is pomegranate lipstick. I am wearing the red fleece pajamas. (From so long ago.) Adam circles me. He tastes the same as Adam. The way a circle closes. He takes me to the bedroom. To forget about Adam. We talk about the president. Adam can't believe. I say we are finally going. Pomegranate is popular. Here in Adam's house. We are somebody. Adam takes off my pajamas. Believe it when. Adam isn't here watching. Color or taste. To hear his door shut. My pajamas in a circle. (What time is for.) I say Adam says. His hands apart. The artificial fragrance. Adam says it reminds me. (Each time the same.) The night I leave Adam. A part is all. as in holograms I cannot bisect him to discern a separateness image of the apple cut in half illuminated halved in fourths I ask how such portions remain graceful for example if I am with you contained in the blur bathed then tortured and bathed again by light then all you have to do for the most part is refocus what we need we leave to holes left open in my story here is a waterfall in my story here is a wind chime here a thunderstorm rainforest railroad firecracker airplane ocean parking lot here a lawnmower a hairdryer birdhouse dishwasher here is a highway windshield wiper water heater foghorn furnace in my fish tank is a vacuum cleaner grandfather clock here raindrops crickets here wine glasses a spaceship a heartbeat a drawbridge in a painting hear a ribcage between us to sleep on Adam does not move at speeds racing the rain in yesterday's cloud to demonstrate the shape of cold curtains funnel a cupola of sky imagine a garden so thirsty it begs to join atoms an orphan droplet becomes ten thousand over today's watered-down declaration Adam I loved you as a cloud enormously and all at once distilled to one storm that gathered to threaten in the parking lot her head beside a puddle of molasses too thick to be blood but does it not resemble does it repeat a likeness certainly worthy of his picture Adam the photographer abandon a garden and the house is much bigger yes closing her eyes opening a raincoat even though she stoops inside the shadow of his shadow lowering her head in the crawlspace surely mercy surely the uncanny is much closer now to camera sounds sssssshutters shut and open both familiar as this silhouette: men beasts (or houses repetition insistence repetition insistence in order to tell the difference: now I want you to be closer (or appear to) he focuses no you first I insist to do it moving out of the frame but you don't have to do all of it he reminds her after it is already done after all: there is no such thing as repetition and really how can there be in this story adam collapses I fold a napkin around his name separate the kitchen from the living room with a curtain this way Adam cannot be adam and be remembered a kingdom a trash bin a pinhole shutters shut and shutters and so shutters shut and shutters and so and so shutters and so as soon as she starts over from a photo of a water faucet she pictures how it falls inexorably their sleep machine set to waterfalls every night Adam she follows you dividing books into boxes looking to remember the room gets bigger don't you think it's all the same when a library stops here and begins again picturing water or the sound of it falling she thinks it is all the same
All italicized lines are from Gertrude Stein's poetry, essays, and lectures.
"I kept you both" and "I had a life" are altered fragments from a larger poem that originally appeared in The Offending Adam.
KELLI ANNE NOFTLE'S first collection of poetry, I Was There for Your Somniloquy, was selected by Rae Armantrout for the 2010 Omnidawn Poetry Prize. She lives in Los Angeles.