They couldn't get her to stop doing it. Crusts of bread, leaves of boiled cabbage, twenty-six grapes, flour in small plastic bags choked with red twist ties. They couldn't get her to stop doing it until she stopped doing everything, and after that it wasn't long until the end. Half bananas browning in their peels, dollops of sour cream in drawers, potatoes in slippers under the bed, red beets bleeding through the pockets of her pale yellow bathrobe.
Two slender she's sauntered by on gilt heels. Weather: balmy. The place: an adult-ed lobby like the set of a Busby Berkeley film, but before the extras have shuffled on. How would the pair of women have handled a dissolute tumble into a pool with the best boy? They wouldn't have considered it. They would, however, consider backstroking through glistening patches of urban air in June. They shimmered like literature to Nan, a hungry reader with lush pages to turn. She didn't know which pages she should prefer.
Dad's glasses are on a Newsweek on the coffee table. Where my feet go when I am visiting. He is somewhere behind the bedroom door. My mother is on the couch. The tomatoes are all sliced. Such a strange displacement. I am four again.
She doesn't know what to do. She never knows what to do. I put my arm around her because she is amazing. I tell her that. Right now, I'm telling her that. But then, I believe we're beautiful when we're vulnerable. And her cheekbones have softened with tears…
Along the grassy creek-bank—upstream a beaver's dam, cobbled rust black limbs—all fragrance sunk deep in brown. The mud spattered turtle inches, and down in the slow bubble, the glass black and pebble, an eye—a cold February eye. It shimmers there, blinks; I am the frog song, the shrill whine of insects—
A smack of jellyfish gelatinizes
the beach: man-o-war
blue bottles pop from hot
sand: tide churns these alien
bodies: we wonder why we
gather and destruct
not sure. the sun. but we knew.
the afternoons became burdens.
something to throw away late
at night. along with certain
perishables. under the yellowing
light the pickle jar. then morning
peeled peaches. then a still
you've use that old cane you found for another purpose: you whittle the hand rest to look like a branch: with a discarded knife: you carve patterns into the rod: running your fingers over the carvings: they feel like ancient meaning: you place that fragment of shell: on an ornate string: attaching it to the hand rest: so it will dangle and hang: catch the breeze and spiral: a dowsing medallion: a cursor: to what?
you show up with pockets full of water: but what everyone notices is your large ears: someone whispers donkey: and gets the reply you mean like in Midsummer's Night Dream?: so what if you are different: you resent people jumping to conclusions…
12 January 2010
We will chalk out where
your heart balked forever,
mangled into some kind
of a horseshoe, lucked
over for the very last time—
10 December 2009
The men in their ghost shirts before dawn.
Sunset swallowed like a snake's body
working on a smaller animal. River making the best of it.
You can see where garbage eddies in the shallows,
raccoon prints eroding from the silty banks.
26 December 2009
Crinkled like bad origami
15 January 2010
tell us about evening and about the bright
star tell us about the huge dark wall
where it is pinned so if no one is looking
the sky is really burning and tell me it is my eyes
that douse it all to soot, black branches
with one root in carbon and budding eternity.
18 January 2010
New husband, I have no
faithfulness to spoon into
our morning coffee,
and our evenings
are predictable as
the instars of caterpillars.
You snore, offer nothing…
21 January 2010
You're a trigger finger dug into the starting gun,
the smack as it fires, the tense stroke of hooves
pressing into a fresh track. You're the curiosity
of a flashbulb nibbling air, tricky camera lens
grabbing a mane as it quivers back. I'm a rising
overture of thighs. I'm dirt exploding midair…
2 December 2009
Comes to me in the dream of Odin's eye
resting in smooth silt at the bottom of the Well of Wisdom.
She was one of three sisters, her head thrown
back in laughter. It was hard to look for very long.
Are there still coyotes roaming those fields? A name floats
in—white eyelet, a dress. An armful of daisies…
6 December 2009
The body was one thing we always had
in common, even when between us
a continent unfolded. Eric says,
"We scattered his ashes beneath the Japanese Maple
here behind the house." No ceremony,
as you wished, but this…
8 December 2009
Why do we love you? So easy:
You have many faces
And each one shines upon us.
4 December 2009
Not coop so much as aviary. The way
the youngest two are twins
despite their differences.
This memory of a blue dress
the tall man called a cool drink of water.
24 January 2010
When the train picks up speed, it sounds like a woman screaming,
one woman all over the city, releasing her heat in a high, steady wail,
smearing her red mouth along the tunnel walls. I make and unmake
myself. When the doors open, anyone can come in, anyone does.
13 December 2009
I pull a dog tick fat as a blueberry
from the small of my brother's back,
watch it roll, blood drunk
in the cup of my palm.
18 February 2010
Some are sparrows,
but generally wintry.
Some sparrows spell
rows or spar
when in discord.
Just listen beneath
the din then:
sings winged things
through cold seasons.
Who are you? Tinkerer or whistler? Whisperer or pickpocketer? Specter or wren? If a riddle, then answer in static trapped in antennas or flash powder dissuading children away from the dark. If not, when weather registers music in our bones, then answer with glass antlers shattering or stars carved of paraffin. Once, I dreamed of paper targets of a prey rare or fleet enough to make me turn away the gun.
15 February 2010
The wind in the beginning
meant the crying
inside the blackened lanterns
could carry a rare measure of music.
into the forest, we already heard
the stolen horses
whinnying within the ending.