cusp

cake dressed

in lavender lace

tastes of springtime

and sun

another sip from the chalice

another year done

sweet sixteen

and never been kissed

she wisps ’round the garden

in carapace white

kids run with kites

chilled champagne

sipped by mothers

who fight to think not

of the flight

of the numbers

i am the bell

i am the bell

being rung

 

the round waves

of sound

 

the half–moon ears

they ripple to

 

some thing made me

look

 

deep to my

root

 

sung through

with love

 

it’s been a long time trying

 

climbing out of holes

crafting ladders

 

of wood and rope

of skin and bone

 

i am the creation

the artifact dug up

 

again and again

thrown

i held on as he rocked and bucked

as he shook and cried and spat curses

i clung until i felt it push into me

until i saw red: a river of blood

bright as if spilled

exploded as if out of body

i held on until rage flung me to the floor

he didn’t even know

he wasn’t in the room

the hill

 

dew soaks through shoes

fog clings to everything

metal clang of flag raising, lowering

 

lying on angles under stars

girls tuck into dampening sleeping bags

wait for chief to come say good night

 

some preside at the top, worthy of the climb

lodge where we take our meals and mail and share shelter

watching the storm–sheets sweep in

chapel where we sit in rows under a roiling bell

where we sing, chant, cry,

repent, sin, fly

 

others crouch at the bottom, drawing gravity

stretch of pool we tumble to with towel arm–wings

faded farmhouse where the other life is lived out

rushing road that knows not our stillness

that divides the lofty hill from a flat field

its humble counterpart

 

boys on tractors mow slowly through the grass

time moves slowly

girls are already women

 

           

what comes between

 

she shows up each

night to the fire

 

cleaved        in half        

heart        taking sides

 

no one speaks of it

especially her

 

mouth        split

with precision        

 

the fire holds her

and the people around the fire

and creatures around the perimeter

and sky and trees and moon

 

in time

 

the smoke and words and stars and songs

creep into the chasms

quiet welders at work

 

not like before        

there is no going back

 

but now a molten patch runs

through and holds the halves

 

and honors what comes between

 

         

 

2020

another day yawns

blinding light

creeping air

 

dreams latch on

eyes threaded

flailing into patchwork

gilded with a thousand lives

hinging on revelation

 

i exist right now

just what is

kites for arms

legs like lead

 

mother calls less and less

no one wants to always chase

other times i’d be impressed

pandemics have new rules

 

quarantine’s a waterbed with a pin–prick

running out of duct tape

 

sending more bodies into the ground, into the air

trying on the next life

ultra–violet seams unraveling

violence steeps

 

water water everywhere

x–ray hindsight

young cells without mouths cry out

zoned for rapture

 

Bon–Fire

October is the finest month. I step out into it, straight into the sky. It opens and opens. It holds everything—my thinning crown, ten years of father gone, the horror of child death. Objects greet me from below—a hunched leaf like a toad, an old tennis ball turned peach, a strip of rubber snake. I hear the blue jays, screeches from early memories.

I walk among the houses propped up like giant gravestones. Most are gray or tan or neutral without a name. A few pop in bold shades of rebellion: Bellini Fizz, Melón Meloso, Avid Apricot. Some dance with the dead, strung with webs, orange lights, skeletons.  

Dad asked to be cremated. Even in death, he was thrifty. We had to sign a paper stating that fragments of other people’s bones may reside in his urn. 

The trees are the color of slate, the color of the clouds. One tree reaches out with lavender arms. When young, we’re taught to color trees brown, brown, brown. We don’t yet know the color families.

The years begin to swallow up the bones, starting at the jaw, moving to the collarbone, the hips. The fat fills in. I let my hair grow. The teeth have a mind of their own.

Each porch tells its story: Piles of packages by the steps. Interrupted chalk play. Lighthouse painted tiger painted vase. Mud-caked gardening boots at rest. Hollowed pumpkins wait for their end.

 

Only

When my 8-year-old nephew visits

I teach him solitaire,

a worthy endeavor

for a near–Only.

I, born close between but distant–deep,

have used it to climb

out of holes

standing

on puzzles, books, televisions, poems.

I, and my mother,

each press on

alone

watching

the decade tick.

We have grown used to it.

We have grown some thing

some would call Wisdom,

wired close to the chest.

It is hard–earned.

It has other names.

It spreads across

the sorrow fields

looking

for signs.

omen(s)

you remember

one owl


i remember

two


it was snowing it was night


it was all new


crouched

in a red cabin in the blue mountains



what did those snowy owls see


perched

on an iced branch under the wide moon


through the windows in our door

the panes we never thought to cover


until they held the head of the intruder


the haunt of missing children



boot prints in the snow













a decade of forever

a solemn promise:

to have, to hold;

 

a vow we aim to keep,

but few achieve.

 

you

two—

 

under that weeping willow of green,

in a sheen of white hydrangeas—

 

are the

picture

 

we hold up,

hold onto,

 

as

witness.

 

only you know

the true fullness:

 

the alchemy, the labor,

the bliss.

 

because we all know

it can be hit or miss.

 

a solemn promise:

to be celebrated,

 

honored, held

in awe.

 

you are a light

to each other

 

and to

us all.