Not so much the desire
for owning things
as the inability to choose
between hunter or emerald
green, to buy
just roses, when there are birds
of paradise, dahlias,
delphinium, and baby’s breath.
At center an emptiness
large as a half-off sale table.
What could be so wrong
with a little indulgence?
To wander the aisles of fresh
new good things knowing
any of them could be hers?
With a closet full of shoes
unworn back home,
she’s looking for love
but it’s not for sale —
so she grabs three of
the next best thing.
Cut an animal tongue to turn
the body to gold. Figure burst whole from fruit,
then bent back in. The skin
is fresh, the bruise but a moment
and fine. The man, his hand sunk in the sea,
anchors nothing. One woman at another,
small blade at her eye. These are the stories
we do not want to tell. To swell (a mother),
to retract into fugitive sleep.
Embed a word in a single rib & live
eighty years longer than the rest. Tie cloth
around the eyes. A body swathed in blue
will be safe, the eyes turn up on cue.
What is severed, what kneeling,
what waiting just past the gate.
Unveil the mannequin’s legs in glee. This is not
a feast and at least one lack cannot
be avenged. Fallen persimmons
quiet the eyes. What climbs, what steals,
what severs in threes. One opening
breaks into the next. This is only a mouth.
I’m sure you know the rest. To break,
to liquefy, to drink the answer down.
I for one have given. “Send the butcher back
when he arrives at the gate.” A paper
bird can only melt in the rain. Its rider
stares death in the mouth and can’t speak.
A figure of light, a lie, a woman so pure
children only believe. To sow, to steep,
to follow unthinking. Animal love a tree too much.
Be killed by what it has planted.
leaves, not with what
has made us sorry but
with what was profound about that
gathering winds, but don’t
blow so giddily I teeter
listened to all
summer long, accept my
thanks: to regress is not to move
my wrist, remind me that
in this cauldron there is a world
days of humid
agony have earned you
the right to a hundred purple
I can feel you
stirring, I can hardly
wait for the things that will happen
Scattered through the ragtaggle underbrush starting to show green shoots
lie the dark remains of rail sleepers napping now beside the rusted-out wreck
of a Chevy that was once sky-blue and now is nothing but shattered panels and
anonymous bits of engine in the ditch by a path that was once a railway line
cut between small hills whose silence hasn’t been broken by the rattle and
lonesome-blown whistle of a train for fifty years and whose air hasn’t filled
for ages with my childhood’s smell (set by Seapoint on the coastal line) of coal
smoke and hot steam puffed up in great cloud-breaths out of a black-sooted chimney.
It was taken some time ago.
At first it seems to be
print: blurred lines and grey flecks
blended with the paper;
then, as you scan
it, you see in the left-hand corner
a thing that is like a branch: part of a tree
(balsam or spruce) emerging
and, to the right, halfway up
what ought to be a gentle
slope, a small frame house.
In the background there is a lake,
and beyond that, some low hills.
(The photograph was taken
the day after I drowned.
I am in the lake, in the center
of the picture, just under the surface.
It is difficult to say where
precisely, or to say
how large or small I am:
the effect of water
on light is a distortion
but if you look long enough,
you will be able to see me.)
My father lives by the ocean
and drinks his morning coffee
in the full sun on his deck,
talking to anyone
who walks by on the beach.
And in the afternoons he works
part-time at the golf course–
sailing the fairways like sea captain
in a white golf cart.
My father must talk
to a hundred people a day,
yet we haven’t spoken in weeks.
As I get older, we hardly speak at all.
It’s as if he were a stranger
and we had never met.
I wonder, if I
were a tourist on the beach
or a golfer lost in woods
and met him now for the very first time,
what we’d say to each other,
how his hand would feel in mine
as we introduced ourselves,
and if, as is the case
with certain people, I’d feel,
when I looked him in the eye,
I’d known him all my life.
I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.
The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper sunburned woman,
the mother of the year, the taker of seeds.
The northwest wind comes and the yellow is torn full of holes, new beautiful things
come in the first spit of snow on the northwest wind, and the old things go,
not one lasts.