School St.

Churning away time, walking through dusk
Up dusty double track to the new subdivision
Great owl took flight from a fencepost
My dog straining to catch so many desert scents

Light drains from the sky, one pinprick star
Neighborhood kids pedal glow stick bikes

So tell me about everything in this town
Winding down School Street, your childhood home
Feet heavy with dew from cutting through yards
Sandals pad driveways, gravelly steps

I stall outside my house and linger
Ponder how to stretch the night longer
Let your silhouette recede under the streetlamp
Knowing sleep will elude me tonight

Outside/Inside

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I walked through the neighborhood before dusk
A lilac breeze blowing enough to wonder about a jacket, so
I tucked into myself a little tighter

Thinking isn’t it funny how I invite the natural world into my house
With my plants, my pets, my own body and all its strange/perfect biology
Into this place considered not-nature

Yet out here crows fly toting sticks for nests,
Poppies flourish in a violent orange,
Frost creeps through the grass even in June,
Tufts of cotton float through the sky,
as I shift between outside/inside

a million triangles

i didn’t want to lie
but i also didn’t tell you
as he was on me breathing
horrible decay on my cheek
i easily dissociated

to the mexican restaurant on main st.
where you told me you were adopted
and i folded my napkin into a million triangles

we studied each other with smiles
to communicate what words lacked
my throat choked with-love??
but it was much too early to say that

The Long Circle Around the Sun

The Earth has created a long circle
around the Sun since we last touched
and yet I still can’t meet your eyes
when they hold so little guilt.

I didn’t mean to hurt you

If you say that, are you absolved
of all blame? Your summer came early
and left me cold in June. I shivered
from these burns that still ache in the sun.

Warmth will return
as I tip slowly on my axis to face
a new direction, and it will not be you
that thaws this ice.

The Pebble

I do need to keep some bitterness wrapped in my heart,
lest I spend too long staring at your jawline and cheekbones
and begin to forgive you.

There will always be a hard pebble of resentment lodged in my stomach
so I do not begin to fall in love with you.

You protected yourself by pretending to want me
when you still loved someone else.

I will protect myself by swallowing a few seeds of hatred
that will grow into a creeping tangled vine.

200 years ago

200 years ago I would have been biding my time
in a heavy wool dress gathered around my legs
hem growing dirty from the fire’s dust and ash
feet raw on an icy stone floor

Watching for the arrival of a stagecoach
or maybe a wiry boy on horseback
exhausted as he thrusts a tattered envelope
before my eager and nervous face

Maybe I would brew a cup of tea for the occasion
and sink into the old patterned armchair
or I would flee to a lonely field thick with snow
to slide that precious paper into my hands

But likely I would already be long-married
pressing a damp child to one shoulder
stacking wood on the fire as ice decorated the window
rushing to check on the rising bread for my husband

200 years ago I would have been more patient
less desperate to hear from you within the day
instead of indulging the itch to check
my texts, my emails, over and over

dirty

chai tea burns my palms as i wait
for the sun to break the morning chill
i light sandalwood incense, one stick after another
as if i am a chain-smoker
funneling my craving into this cane of resin
and i am hoping the spirals of smoke and
harsh words and scalding water
scour me inside-out, scrub me raw
from the bad things i have done and continue to do
because i do want to live
but there must be mud and mold and tangles of plaque
growing inside my chest and skull
for i talk about feeling dirty and
not knowing how to clean
to forgive myself

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

Once at the Lake

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Mountain rock breathes cool on nape of neck,
where I’ve pulled hairs in fits of nerves.
Boulders varnished white and gray bounce back
a marmot screech across the lake. A late call
to flee, or hide. My howling feet beg for rest
on perfect granite slabs. Like ivory cut
by rain and time. I think mastodons roamed
lakes like this, dipping trunks in ice.
Ghosts might rove this meadow now.
I count clouds that traipse along the peaks
where climbers cling; I am not one of them
today. Bruised feet in grass, I dream.

Your Bones

All that happened was on a bright blue day
I saw you bent over your bike in the heat
your bronze back arched with knobs of spine
as if the knuckles of some creature were
trying to press their way out of your ribcage
stretching your bones like hungry claws

All that happened was I fell in love
with the delicate curve of your skeleton
wrapped in freckles and blonde

All that happened was I returned home with
a sheen of sweat on my forehead
and a hunger for your heart