And after the yield of honey,
who’ll build up the hive that’s rent?
Each of its chambers has borne
the imprint of our loving.
Pale yellow, soft amber, darker gold—
Sweet that is each mouthful’s brief coloring.
Mine is the wooden bowl
and the drink drawn by the hand-pump
from the spring; and the slippers left
by the kitchen door for entry into the house—
So when I come in from the heat,
I do not argue with the darkening
pages of the day when this body
wants nothing more than to sink
into the folds of a sheet,
an envelope of water, a book
held open at the mark as quietly
as a wood satyr’s wings.
On the insides of the wrist, nape, the elbow’s
hollow: run a thin trickle of cooling water—
I think of myself in that bed: flushed with heat
and delirium, wrapped in nightgowns of rushing water.
What was it the gods claimed was stolen from them?
Some elixir of life, ambrosia, nectar, sugar water?
Flesh sweetens, ripens, pulsed with kisses;
anoint its stations with cologne water.
Above the reflecting pool, trees grows heavy
with fruit. Thirst seems a mere sip away from water.
If I drank straight from your mouth, I might revive
or I might wither. How far from reach is the water?
Lyre Sponge (Chondrocladia lyra)
The caption reads Dangerous beauty—
this candelabra of the deep, carnivore waving
five taper-studded vanes the color of putty,
tips the color of tallow: but was there ever
any beauty not dangerous? How to refuse what has
that singular capacity to swing not only lever
but floodgates open, disarm, send shock
after shock of electric feeling straight from
hapless nerve-endings to the brain? Luck
has nothing to do with it, not choice, mere
circumstance. Some things cannot help being
what they are— And as for the leer
of the closed door, the signs that say No
Entry Allowed or Members Only: I was raised
to believe not only the beautiful can live on
Parnassus— For don’t the birds, unstoppable, traffic
through the valleys, don’t the trails lead from the depths
to the crests of hills where the clouds are thickest?
Were it not for the mind
that always wants to calculate the cost,
the heart and mouth that always want
to cram one more pleasure in,
there might be no call to separate
flesh from its limits, no need to make
apology for the noisy clapper sounds
made by attachment
after attachment— Is there hope?
I want to ask— Or, how long is this work
of endless cleaning, trimming,
pruning? In heat-hazed streets,
beggar children knock on car windows
opening their palms, offering grain-
sized buds they’ve threaded
into garlands. Help me, see
me, give me, say the ones who need
the most— How is it not possible to give
when even these blossoms, already dead,
cannot hold in their scent?
Darling, don’t scold. Warblers flit from tree to tree, garrulous about something. What is there to fight about? The glaciers are melting. Yesterday’s roses are full-blown— ivory and cream, blood-red, damask. Five out of eight movie trailers in theaters downtown depict apocalyptic worlds. There is a new laundromat that just opened two blocks away; you can smell the fabric softener in the air. We’re young and poor, already middle-aged and poor, forty before forty. Or are we? Supper doesn’t have to be at seven. Supper doesn’t have to be served with the thin gravy of abstinence, the plain hard rolls of buckle down grimly to business. The price tag isn’t the price tag; it’s the pinch of salt on a pillow of plain noodles, the gold serif of butter on a handful of sweet peas; summer’s warmth on blackberries at the bottom of the wine glass. Two can live as cheaply as one and still grow fat on the surplus. Let’s use the one good piece of china rather than have it gather dust on a cupboard shelf then break from the earth’s unsubtle tectonics. There might be days when I’ll sit with my face to the window, not moving, not saying much, just listening. Promise that you’ll toggle the blinds open, heat some soup, bring tea— anything green, anything to soften the brittle bud, coax the flower open again in the cradle of the cup.
I could barely keep
my eyes open after digging
in the dirt, out in full sun,
hands mint-wreathed as though
tomorrow might never come—
The soil warm
as affection, clouds
banked somewhere else; rain held
temporarily in abeyance— How easy
to forget how the end of a breath
has the same sound as a sigh;
how the scent, the music,
become richer and more clear
as the body leans deeper
toward its fall—
Boatman who will take me
through the mist and rain, I have ready
a piece of bread, a little copper
coin for the meter
of your time, for passage through
those treacherous channels—
And I know today
could be the day, but my heart’s in shreds
from the brightness of yellow umbrellas
on the sidewalk, from Louie’s
Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off
brassy on the radio And oh! If we
ever part, Then that might break my heart!
And my heart’s a knob of sugared ginger
warm in my mouth, my heart’s
the room I’ve yet to dust, polish,
put in order, for all my loves who are coming
any minute now to while away the hours—