Gus at Sixteen

When we are seven and he is four,
Gus drowns himself every day. "I'm thinking,"
he says, and the lifeguards learn
to disregard the screams. Gus floats

face-down in the shallow end,
with his hair like corn silk, hair that
goes green in pool water. His sister and I
do handstands beside the corpse.

Time passes. Us girls get out of the pool
to unwrinkle our fingers: suddenly
we've gone through puberty. Tonight in some lake somewhere
a dreamy Gus is lost in thought.
His poor new girlfriend is screaming.

photo: "Emmett Darling" by Sally Mann



I am a hot bottle of the things you don't consider.
Rushing forth, inescapably boiling, I'll soak your cuffs
in an impotent flood
and puddle out of sight
of the Wet Floor sign. Come slide a little in me,
my asbestos friend.
If I am scalding, you should be burned,
who waltzes unharmed in good lava.

painting by Bobi + Bobi



Traffic is stopped on Old Shelter Rock Road,
Where usually there is no traffic.The minivan

Couldn't have been doing more than thirty,
But the motorcycle, crushed and grounded,
Gleams dully on the street.

Someone has covered the rider's face with a shirt.
He's laying on his back across the yellow lines,
Knees up like he's reading, or watching
Clouds go by.

photograph by Kou Hattori


Tink's Lament

What is she, this Wendy-Bird,
that falls and calls so prettily?
I've sung for years
in your silver-tipped ears
but 'twould hurt you none
to be quit of me.

She cannot fly; she has no light,
no flowers in her gown;
Yet for her name, you'd learn to write
and set your dagger down.

She'll leave you, boy, and take with her
the hearts of all your men;
And like a boy, you'll forget her,
and be all mine again.

This giant girl will make you cry
and scold you when you crow;
So leave her there, this Wendy-Bird--
the sky is ours. Let's go.

Illustration by Trina Schart Hyman

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