love gone sour

when i wanted to know everything you’d ever wished for
my heart was thick with hope
and desire visited me as i slept; she sent me
dreams of your legs churning on the dike
kicking up gravel in your wake

now i turn if i see you on the street, pretend
to become very interested
in the hollyhocks as i ready myself to return
to the ocean with fresh wounds, i am silent
because sharks smell blood
and i am hurt

it is almost worse
that you greet me so cheerfully, your smile
burrowing deep into my chest and nestling there

when i wanted to know everything you’d ever feared
my mouth numb with fondness for you
everyone could see it when they peered into my face
and commented on the warm glow of my skin, the deep
healthy shine of my cheeks

now i turn if i catch my reflection in the mirror, for
bitterness is still clenched in my teeth
and love has gone sour in my mouth
yet i cannot stop chewing it over and over
hoping the sweetness will return

And I Couldn’t See for the Sun

fern-gardening

Photo from bobvila.com

I came to his office in the morning, mottled plants breathing
stale sunlight, parched in the absence of dew.
He told me of his life and the travels he wished he’d taken,
crusty dreams now buried, justified beneath the job, the kids,
the wife I don’t wish to hear about.

We talked, or rather, I listened, and nodded, and quietly scrutinized
middle age and how it frightens people, makes them feel they must
prove their merit to the young. I vowed I would not place a value
on his head like a barcode containing all the necessary information
about the product.

The clock regarded us impatiently. I shuffled my belongings to announce
my departure, rose hesitant, and caught his gaze for a second too long.

We are always aging, always making mistakes. I ought to be a green fern
frying in the sun, so pleased with the warmth that I ignore the
way my fronds wither, the way my color seeps out of me and into the earth.