Affair

I’ve never loved
you, like this,
before: split, falling
down and tapped. I’d
always wished you
harder, but I find
the way you
pucker under tender-
running fingers,
a kind of fascinating
curious lovers long for
when the world
begins to spin again.

A Baptism

Between parallel high-
desert mirrors, in unending
yellow-green and gray-
brown, I nearly drowned in
a bowl of
my prayers.
I dressed them
up in petals and whispers,
and left them to swim
in the climbing sun.
I made myself
a tourniquet, opened
and closed. I sounded
sacred vowels
to wring out and make
room. Singing,
single file, I
sat. I wrapped
my legs around them,
lifted them up in cupped
hands, drank of them,
bathed, bare, in them, and
kissed them so deeply I
couldn’t hear
my lugs calling.   

Commu(t)(n)ing

On the train, I changed
seats three times chasing
windows, and trying to
get the mighty river on
my right. A sticky December
held tight to my plans,
slowing
them down
to January
arrival times. I
should thank her,
really, if I could
only let myself
be held
by quiet
afternoons.

The Wheel

Griffin

The night before you
were born, a November
fog rolled the edges off
the fall. An evaporating
moon lifted the corners
of her mouth, baring a break
in her circle. In the morning,
we scraped the ice off your
grandmother’s car. The clouds,
were butter-knife-spread apricot
jam on the toasted sky. Through
your mother’s twelfth-story
window, buildings
parted as she pushed
you into the blue day.

Beverly

The last time I
saw you, the plumeria
was blooming in
your yard, you told me so. You
sugared your plate, pulled
dough across it and through
apricot jam. You trusted
we were yours and
took in our gestures, timbre,
description of our
living room rugs. We
stood in your studio, decades
of kiln-set gardens. I
know you wore
lipstick as you left, painted,
like your platters and plates
as your children collected,
and autumn parted her
curtains for you.

Our Congregation

Your hair was
wet when you
told us, someone
has to come get
me. You’d waded
with your jewelry
on, your fingers
had pruned. I
never want to leave
the river, you
told us. You did.
So we’re turning

into slick, granite
stone for you,
August-greened
trees for you, water
that washes, rushes
over, carries and
holds you, and
tells you, you never
have to leave.

Undressing

I am following suit:
hanging the
old out to
dry, changing
color, falling
down. We are
measuring
the length
of light, lowering
our freezing
point, dropping
hints.
I’m pulling
my loves
close to
me. We are
singing sweet
cradlesongs
to Eris.

Coming in, in October

I can’t tell if it’s
the leaves or the light
that are yellow. There’s
a call to the corners
that even the quickest
head turns can’t
catch. Coming
home the trees
are thick with Starlings,
and cry upon cry
they build a house
of sound. A great eye
pulls back its lid and
in it I see a slid down
moon settling into
its apogee. I’m sure
ashes of me are
drawn up to meet
it. And while I think
of the red lining of
my mother’s leather
gloves, I wonder if
I’m blackening a
ceiling somewhere.
 

First Sunday

Sitting, on a Sunday, I saw
that the view through
my window was nothing
more than intersections; that
my house was merely
the meeting of lines; that
my body was only overlapping
matter; that the earth was a plain
partnership of decomposition;
that my love was simply concentric
existence; that this place was, is,
both an evaporating echo and
a crescendo of some someone’s
or no one’s unknowable
making. So as we all coincide,
amplify and fight Doppler, I
can only sleep with an Om
in and Ma out, and
be happy with the smoke
from this fall’s first fire.

Homing In (or, Selkie’s Search)

      -for L.C.

I see you, a speck
amidst other specks
in white sand. I only
know it’s you, by
the barbs of your
feathered halo. You
conduct the mild breeze
in your tent covered
with dust. You move
answers through the hair
of the people who kneel
with you. There, buried
under eons of broken-down
mountains you exhume a
smooth, marine fur.
You dress yourself
up in yourself and
lower the horizon
with your hands.

Me, I see in a forever
of ground-covering
vines. Orange and yellow,
fluted and netted fruit.
And while I dream
of black and blue-feathered,
unidentified birds, you
blow through
my yard, and my hair
stands on end. I see
that the skin, (that I swore
was someone else’s), tucked
between the pages of
black books, starts
to feel like home.

Touching the Sound

The ocean folded, lifted my father,
my sister and me up on to
her shoulders as the tide
came in and the wind tried
to blow her back out. The light
on the cliff boasted with blinking
phases—new to full in quick
revolutions. But I knew I’d find
no patience there. I went back
to the steady vibrations of line
dropping into the abyss. 

With pulses from floor
to fingers we picture
the schools of clucking Sea
Robins. I must have seen
her, really seen her, 
without knowing it—we
are pulling at one another,
and my wrist hurts, and
she’s tired. When we meet,
I think, I know you
and I’m sorry, so I thank her
and her mother. Only when
her tail was still, did
the moon that had
been with us, all morning,
give herself over to daylight. 

Page of Cups

I am face-to-face
with a fish
emerging from my
golden cup. It has no
scales and echos
the divine and thornless
roses we used to paint.
I am water, fish says, I am
deep and still.
Affection wraps
me up into a bottomless
pool. Underwater I
can see. The depth
and all the animals
with no name whisper
and croon and connect
the dots to revelation. 
Above me, the world
is magnified and reveals
the rich landscapes, the
mountain tops and valleys,
of minerals. The flowers,
closed, tower and
wait for the sun. When
judgment breathes
into her horn, the sun,
and I, rise to the surface.

Maple Grove, Planet Unknown

At your graves, I looked
for the glaze-combed glass,
the women wading
in golden flax,
the valley of trees
and the light
that would catch
in the scene and color
my memory. But

the Earth had shifted,
somehow, removed
us from her. We
watched it, metallic
and smoldering, set
into a horizon we
couldn’t make sense of.
And all I could do
was take a picture.

Under the Rose Moon

On the longest day
of the year, under
the full Rose Moon, I
hunt for holy nectar.
I hum through amblers
on 51st street drawn
by the petals and blue
glass before Her. I
borrow fire from
someone else’s
supplication and
watch, wait. Finally,
there is a fish
on the end of the flame
I lit for you. It tugs
and pulls and gives
you legs and ears. I
can bow and see
how the child peers
from under Her night-sky
robes. I can see that
Her hair is dark, and
can talk to Her, and you,
in the tiger lily air. A day

later, with a nagging
pit in my belly, I
lay flat, wrists out,
and like a book disclosing
her deep, paper gut,
the walls and windows
ascend to some
far-above, phallic-curved
meeting point. I am
the altar. My needles
flicker. Fish
suck at my meridians.
Shapeless, now, you
come with Her
blessing.

Adelphi

If we are
like those rocks,
a mobile, made up
of pluses, minuses
and corresponding matter;
if the thought
of the north
star hurts in my
forehead, chest
and belly because
we are the same; if
this stillness is an
apparition attempting
to be generous; then
though I feel left,
the wake rushing
under my arms; and
though I think I must
no longer be visible;
perhaps it’s only
our disparate speeds.
As you spin into the
illusion of invisibility you
see me too tired to
call out. If all of this, then
this life—the lived and to be
lived, the one in your gut
and the one in my eye—
is one life and I
have all I could
need and need only
remember how to breathe.

On the run in the half-light

The roads are lined
with golden, open
mouths; millions of
them yawning in
the morning, calling
to their ripe tongues
the workers that will
carry their children.
They were the same

as the ones on the suit
I found you wearing in the
wood that day you
offered to serve me.
We weren’t dressed
for it—you polished,
me barefoot and wet—
but we climbed and ran
and feared looking back
until my sister took
your place. The path

softened and sweetened
and split into miles
of hexagons that
cushioned our steps.
I promised you,
no one is home, I saw
no brood or nectar
or capped winter
stores. With ears
to the wind we let
ourselves stop and
collected the marcasite
bird points we simply
couldn't leave behind.


 

Savagery, Reverence and Mercy

Your mother rocked from
side to side backing away
from the crowd. She did
not bleat or beg with you.
After a show of yellows,
blackish purple and cadmium
on fire, I watched you dive
onto the wet and ambrosial
barnyard floor. I spoke

with the man who would
end your life, the woman
who would prepare your
body, rubbing you with
salt and sacred spring.
We nodded to the heads
of your aunties set to stew
and roast in sweet hay. Still,
they love you and I am
learning. Not one piece of
you is not considered. I

think of your older sister,
her fleece that, daily, bathes
in dappled, morning light.
She I caress with the same
hands that hold a bottle
for you to drink from. This
is our savagery, reverence
and mercy.
 

A PAUSE

Later today, we will hang,
held, eggs, for a moment as
our most upright selves. A
little taller, I will see
the space in between
us. In this, the hungriest
time, we will feed each other
what is dried, made potent
by our revolution. Dry, we
will dream of watery vessels,
conjure electric air, call
up the colors we lost. I
will think ofMary spilling
her feed into a bed of green
and spiny thistle, and be
swathed by equal parts day
and night.

March 10

On Thursday, not long after
nine, I was pulled
out of my window by the
gentle smoke of long grass
and that sweet smell of wax
drawn out and worked,
so piously, by women with
no more than a matter
of weeks to live, to be filled
with the treasured wares
of the first open flowers. Through

the rectangle panes
and decades of layered paint
I sigh at the passing arrowhead
of birds, unashamed of my
ignorance to their destination,
consenting to my temporary
terrestrial and time-bound
place. Secure in the unknowable

future blowing across the stone
courtyard, past the 1930’s silos
and hay barn, shaking my desk
and the water in my glass and
stirring the piles of paper, I
resume my morning in a
warmer and brighter world.