Not silver needle, not jumping black blood,
not small white spot of fire inside her elbow, but something,
something made her crumple every time.
They had leapt in front of her car for years,
waiting in the night to surprise her with their deaths.
She kept us from watching Bambi,
said it would give us the wrong ideas.
Ten years of mornings, battered shoelaces through the
same number of eyelets in the sneakers, same distance
from black canvas ankle to red star to rubber heel.
She sat in the half-dark, waiting, hearing the popcorn
around her. Only when the last lights dimmed
would she joyously allow her hand to dip
into the red-striped paper bag.
The oral surgeon sat back, his eyebrows
perfect tildes. "Your teeth are fine," he said.
"Just two years too young."
The bunsen burners had given them an idea.
They walked to my seat at the lab bench, brandishing
yards of rubber tubing. "Witch."
I could hardly believe
the word I was hearing. "Make sure you
clean up after," said the chemistry teacher.
She opened the pink plastic box,
saw erasers shaped like citrus-colored stars.
She held one up to the light, knew it was stupid,
and put it in her mouth.
tagged by P of what possessed me. P, please remind me to never attempt this again.
Independence, Privation, Treatment for Weak Hearts
He looked her blue in the eyes, searching,
and told her he loved her. She murmured
indistinctly and thought not of the flush
in his cheeks or his wheat-colored eyelashes,
but of ripe plums.
In the biting January wind, in the heartless
blinding sun off the harbor waters,
her mind retreated to the surrendering depth
just beyond the taut, tangy skin of the plum.
As his hot hand reached for hers
she longed for the shady release
of cool juice on her lips,
black fruit in her hand.
"Before you go," he said, "Eat these."
His palm was rough, black with soot,
and three rubies glittered there, perfect drops
He would not meet my round eyes.
I assumed grief and accepted his gift; the hot winds
of deceit had never known my petaled face.
The earth opened above us,
and a golden arm came through
to draw me up.
I closed my mouth, bit down
and felt all my convictions
running down my throat.
Paper boats; the three of us shivered
in the wind off the sleeping lake,
birthday candles the only light
in the dark glass-and-tree world.
The boats drifted, radiant white, unconsumed
by the water that supported them.
We crouched at the shore watching them go,
living through damp breath and hammering hearts.
We set the last three down on the lake,
blind to where the air ended. “Ghost,”
you breathed. It was my name that night.
An unseen current pulled the boats sharply away
and yours caught fire.
The flames made a home in my eyes.
Labels: direct address
Hope, Consolation, First Sign of Spring
The dark days seem to go on forever.
She prowls the cold streets on her lunch hour,
each empty storefront a new shade of yellowing gray.
Everything must go; all first-quality merchandise;
the real estate agency for rent.
Graffiti has faded to shades of rusty red.
On the corner she steps out in front
of a cop car, is splashed back onto the curb.
By her wet ankles, clean surprise:
Behind her the resin angels
of Saint Anthony's gift shop
look to the sky,
I stuck all my stars to your wall;
they fluttered to the floor.
I remember your voice, so sure and pleading,
years ago through plastic speakers.
You sang. Green paper stars settled in my hair
like confetti. We were late.
I stepped from beneath the steady stream of longing then,
constellations of regret in my wake.
This world will be as water, and you will be either a stone, a dam, a broken branch, or a naiad, the stream itself.
Take it in but do not stop, and remember that the magic word is release.
Enjoy the people and visions and textures you love.
Do not eat when you are not hungry, but drink even when you are not thirsty. Your body needs water in a way you will never fully understand.
Know that if you let go the current will carry you. It may not be where you believe you need to go. Trust in the cradle of the infinite.
Accept patterns and rhythms but do not fear new diversions. Someday all the world will be at sea level.