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.

AFTER THE FANFARE

There’s something
about a place made
for eating alone; where
your ticket stays open, where
you can watch a boy be
fed his first oyster by
his father, marvel
at an Irish accent like we’ve
done for a hundred
years, butter seeded
crackers, and wonder
if Jack London’s spoils
ever made it here.

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.