The flimsy spaghetti straps cannot
on to the peeling paint
last metal hanger.
Crinoline wants to stand in starched salute, but sags like butter
from the left breast.
The scent of saffron on threads,
its shapely bodice remembers his hand wedded to the curve of her back,
the supple navigation of flesh through smears of night, through zippers and skirts, the girl drifts up from taffeta, from catechism and golden rules.
Angels grow angry bird wings.
Unfurl the ghost of swans, I am yellow
as beaks. Passion hatches its magical egg. I am sewn into feathers and sky,
a secret tugging at the never-never,
no one points at my ribs.
I dance in the cage of all secrets, twirl
from ashes, the moon blushes my sleep. Did Adam really break his rib in two?
I am leaving my old body,
the fallen angel's resurrection.
Yolk-colored Monarchs remember
the way to Brazil, taffeta in swarms
of wings. The silent pulse in the tabernacleof her heart always dances.
she is the yolk that feeds the night.
Come Mother and Father, stand at the top of the hill with me. It is time
to walk down to the river.
We hang out clothes on the thorny branches of the wild rose.
The stones of the path are obtrusive
but with each step
they elongate to warm and smooth
the soles of our feet.
The winter snow has made the river
fast and deep.
We gaze into its immeasurable current, fall on our knees and listen.
Sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, there are no more keepers, only givers
and receivers. In me you will find the reasonfor unity. I have no measure, definition or time, only the perfection of swirls and currents that always
find their way forward.
Immerse your body in the oblivion of my water for you are liquid and forever changing.
Do not damn up your beauty or forsake
the pleasure of brightness.
I will smooth you like the stones of heaven. There is no more stumbling or entanglement. Your inner elements are soft like powder, ground to your finest voice you will evaporateand reconfigure
in the sequence of love.
Trust the constancy of circles.
You are each a dot that extends outward
in a rotating line until you become a circle and all circles are the interlacing geometry that speaks without a mouth.
You are blood and bones, genitals
and heart, breath and tears,
yet so much more. You will float in the brilliance of bending and curving
when you untie every lifetime knot by knot and offer them as jewels to the sun.
Frayed wings of skirts climb toward
the moon hollow, toward hope hanging
on the thread of a sparkless sky.
Lost in the Banyan, the swallow
grieves for the golden
bough, sky-nymph longing
for the exhilaration of sadness,
for mother sky’s vaulted, veinless
arms. Yesterday’s mourning;
last chance for supplication.
Are we skyward:
can we be taught in a short breath
the truth of wings?
The moon flies up and down,
feet crusted with bagworms
and dying mud. Tiny wings
tattoo between shoulders:
blades rending the weightlessness
of ribs and lungs.
Pull the dry skirts over my head.
Bare legs like silver snakes
circle the moonlight. Wings
are footprints falling upward.
Why do we pretend to be bodies?
Bone, blood, fluid not contained
by skin: We are earth-birds
in the unscrubbed sky.
Pull the dead skirts up over my head.
The rains will come tomorrow.
We will drink
published in Friction Magazine, 2000
After the verdant thrust of summer:
the explicit vivacity of life
preparing for its inward pull.
Somehow the pink geraniums
in the flower box
have completely disappeared.
The petunias resign
to the frailty of vines stretching
towards sun’s last fingers.
I have a picture of you
in my head.
My fingers still want damp
soil with all its vitamins
and insignificant creatures
humming the miniature song
that never goes away.
The hosta’s broad leaves
bleach into corn husks
and decaying lace.
My picture curls its edges,
subsides into dull yellow
like old photos dislodged
from their little black triangles
in a broken-down family album.
Soon it will be time
for the long walk between
shadow and sleep.
The grief of a body that knows
it must succumb:
the hand of winter waiting to spread
its exquisite silence.
after Two Calla Lilies on Pink by Georgia O’Keefe
|Two Calla Lilies
pink that never ends
just falls like grace, like manna, like the moment
of a swollen
||berry falling to grass, this
grass that is sweet and green
beyond the hills, beyond your name or mine, can
stiff yellow rods
|stand apart but know the way
I fall from your lips
in pools of delicate rain, the sound of your mouth
on my heart, this
||silk wrapped in August rain, yes
Calla Lilies pressing so
tight their breath cannot escape petals
|one line, straight lines have lost
it is bending that curves in
and out so sometimes we forget where you end
and I begin.
published in the Best Love
Poems of Stirring 2002