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 LETTER G

B-Side, sharpening my
G, g, g. Now, see
how loose it is? More
like my father’s than
my mother’s, whose
was chalkboard-clean—the green,
lined kind with lunchtime-
eraser clappers. Who
has time to fall in love
over inky ovals and
tenderly pulled lines,
anyway?

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.

Meet me in the Car

I take drives to
talk to you
like I used to—
in other people’s
verses—and try to
recall that stomach-flip feeling
of speeding
over bridges with you.
Meet me in the car, OK,
but I’ll greedy-repeat-play
the songs I think
will keep you
there.  

AFTER

I can’t smell
the flowers on
the kitchen table, or
the piles of them, at
our Mother’s feet—
the potent row
of sprays for you
have dulled
my senses. I’m still calling
to you, go slow, even though
it’s you I left
behind at the end
of that too-long,
marble hallway.

THE NUMBER THREE

I’ve mourned you
before: growing pains in
my shins, sure it was
you who was
getting too big too
fast; that sweet year we rotted
the wood floor; when I left
home; came back home;
when you wished me
and my family well. We all
smell shirts, trash blue
baseball caps, keep folded
notes in a box, but don’t plan to
burry you before the letters
tear at their creases.

WHEN I WAS A SEABIRD

I had no flock, but close
confidants who knew, too, how to hold
their breath. I’d let you watch
me draw oil to catch color and keep
me slick and ready. I never
wondered how you felt as I fed
myself with kills, air dried and looked
away. I always knew when the
tide was coming in and when to
ride it out.

SEWING

I’m picking up
a dropped hem with black
thread and no thimble. Silk I
will wear to your sister’s wake.
I remember how to hide
the stiches, but feel them
brush the inside of my ankle
as I lift my feet at
the prie-dieu, and know that
this is how you’re saying
good-bye to
her contracted body.

Arrival

The best thing about you
being here, is that I can draw
a line right to you, call you
by your name. It’s that
you have a smell I know
I’ll miss, a shape. It’s that
I’m arriving, and moving
on, and arriving again. That
I’m greeting and meeting and
singing, fare thee well, on
repeat. That the only ones
paying invisible visits are
ones I already lived life with.
The best thing is that
we got here and we
keep on going. 

YEARLESS SUMMER

I’m eating breakfast—moving
eggs and herbs. But
I’m also on Eden’s gravel
paths—learning that peppery,
green smell—back
when you wore your
hair curly. I’m riding
North—one bite in
to the season’s first plum. But
somewhere else, I’m rubbing
sand off the skin, sitting
between your summer legs.

The Tie That Binds

On a Thursday, you turned
us into ropes. We wove
a seat for you—a safety
net—tied tourniquets. 
We were suspended,
open-ended, wetted
by the heat. We were
mountain-movers, like we
always said we’d be—and
you let us be. And driving home
I saw boats I’d, somehow,
never noticed, and knew
this tidal estuary
would unite you
with the sea.