FOR NANCY LUCE

After there were no more horses,
you paid a man your meager
earnings to be known
like this: holding your
bantam babes at your
breast—their
little eggs, your
little books, and all
your poor little hearts
cracked open
for our breakfast. Only
I can’t eat—I know, in
the end, it
will only be our hens that
will comfort us.

HOUSE WREN

You call, call, call,
and don’t’ seem to care
at all that you’re call-call-
calling, and  we all
hear you asking
for love enough
to keep a cradle
and last the summer.  

BLUEBIRD

God, how blue
your blue, I want to
press my index
finger into
your feathers to
see how deep it’ll go.
I’m in up to my elbow,
when you alight
from my fencepost.

MORNING LESSONS

When you’re brushed
white on one side—so
the light catches, so I
lean over the wheel
to see you and swerve
and ride the line—I realize
I don’t know you like
I thought I did.
I misread
the angles
of your arms, where we’ll
eventually meet.
I’ll remember,
even when you wear
your flowering suit.
But I can’t promise
not to stare.

YOURS and MINE

There are ways
of mine I failed
to give to
you. I see
that you stand,
with your hands quietly
settled at the small,
small of your back, not
gripped and shielding
that complex of ganglia—
that place you puff
up and lean in from.
I cannot call
the 4-o’clock birds
back into the sky for
you to watch, but
I’ll ask them, everyday,
for you, I’ll ask them.

AJAR

Without these fissures—the
basins and pumice of me—
I could not let you
in, or let you run
through me, or let you
leave me, when
the time
is just right.

WAMPUM

When I think about you
calling to
the mud, sand and sea—
show me
the way to go home—
I see
how deep you mined for your
deeply colored lips. How rich
am I to wear you
in the shower, while
I sleep? I swear
to tell the grocer and
each hand I shake how
you were born
and how, for a thousand
years, your forbearers were
worn for weddings, and fed
the children
of the earth.

TO THE GREAT POND

For three days I looked
for you in the same
spot—let
my boots fill up, let
the wind turn me
from shore, let
my back get sore,
my pockets be empty,
remembered how my shadow
moves, here, how sound
carries over
this pond, how
the pink jellies pulse, how
I pulse, saw
everything a mirror.
And when
I, finally, picked you
up, all I saw
was all of us.

STILL, LIFE

This is a morning like
someone’s left-to-sit
breakfast. Coffee
creamed and cooled in
open cups. Rows
of toast, gold and taciturn.
I’d have seen you
burn, before plating
and leaving
you for a lonely driver
to weep over
and write about. But
who am I to
say you aren’t pretty
as a picture
untouched, there, on
the table?

SOMA

I can barely keep my
insides from seeping
into the sofa 
springs, from folding
into floorboards and
easing through 
the mantle. My guts
are floral printed, the
stuffing loam, the planks
red rushes, the earth my most
precious gray matter. Would
you recognize me, if I
stayed like this?

MAPPING

If you catch me counting
letters on book spines, berries
on my breakfast, steps
on the stairway—I’m mapping.
Not my way to you, but to
me. You, I just
have to trust
to know
what my breadcrumbs
look like.

BREATHING, IN DECEMBER

Stand outside
with me so I can watch
my breath meet
your breath. Pant
with me, ‘til we
don’t know whose is
whose and we don’t
care how cold our
hands are—we are
handless reuniting
under the
magnifying
glass of winter.

THE BINGHAMTON

In that emptying lot
we traded early-aught
war stories, compared scars—
waving our arms, waiting
for life rafts. You’d smoke, I’d
bounce and worry
about sweat stains. We
watched that century-old
ferryboat fail, fill
with water, lose its bow.
And even though
your paint was
not peeling, I see it was
you who was
the sinking ship.

WAITING FOR...?

Today, I could not get
my earrings in, got dizzy
dropping, standing,
folding over for fumbled posts
and looking around for
some ghost to tell me
something. Then
a parking lot praying
mantis told me to be
patient,
and I wanted to
scream at her, I haven’t
bitten my nails since
the day he died, so
now what?
So,
I’m waiting.

The Bridge

It’s hard to hold
a mudra, make a
gesture of blessing—beyond
an open-mouth—when we’re
all spinning, playing
tricks with light, leaves
wishless coins dropping. All
I can do is flatten
my tongue and make
as much room as
I can.