My husband and I cut down the brush
That years ago broke through the playhouse walls.
Dead twigs and branches, mainly, though
Some new living thing was entwined there, too.
We tugged at it, bit by bit, pulling through the tangle
Until it all piled up, crooked, on the lawn.
It took a long time.
Then, we lit a fire with expired mail and fed it with the twigs.
We did all this in silence; all week long
We'd circled around a quarrel.
It's Easter. I didn't visit family this year.
It doesn't feel right -- taking their food
And leaving when the talk turns antagonistic.
I don't know what's going to happen.
I don't know if we'll recognize ourselves tomorrow.
I don't know if change begets hope.
I don't even know
If we'll keep loving each other year after year.
As we break these branches with our hands,
As we clear more space.
I snap dead wood into tinier pieces.
We can't help but stand in the smoke,
Tossing both dead and living into the fire.
The green vines curl like witches as they burn.
[I wrote these years ago and thought I had lost them!]
A drink that warms when held in the mouth. Strawberry on the edges. Rounded center one would mistake for hollow—a globe. Best on an empty stomach, with bread after the initial sips to soak up the coffee grounds one might imagine on the roof of the mouth. Recommended for people who like caves, pepper plants, and experimental films.
Earthy is too predictable a description for this mineral dormancy. The aroma—a mixture of salt and wet paper—rises from a seed within the wine. Pairing with only the lightest-colored cheeses, this variety should be aged—not chilled. Best with dried peaches. Best after an afternoon that leaves the street wet with barely-noticeable pools of oil slick along the curb.
Although the first flavor is a jarring thickness, this wine lightens when consumed. Notes of butterscotch and edamame. Particularly good for pregnant women or for women who would like to become pregnant. If pairing with chocolate or raspberries, have a glass of water nearby. Best with pork. Best on a morning after.
Our darkest variety. Too many berries to count. We recommend drinking it with someone you don’t quite trust. Best with crackers and oyster soup. Particularly memorable if consumed during a hurricane or blizzard. The first flavor is a ruse—soda water. Wait for the second and third flavors of velour and black cherry, respectively.
Changing Your Mind
Initial flavor of lemon that hardens to green chile on the way down. Amber color as seen through pink-tinted sunglasses. Not unlike raindrops on a Cholla cactus. Caution: Risk of explosion if heated. Best when paired with potatoes and cream or anything that sticks in the throat.
The Good Life
Aroma of candle wax and cucumber. A taste that brings out lint on the tongue. For relief—swallow. Best with your most shocking acquaintances. Notes of antique wood carvings and motorcycle chrome. It is only your imagination that detects a hint of lemonade. This wine may be aged or consumed immediately. In either case it will seem as though you’ve been drinking it for years.
A half-moon caught in the trees, / the desert emptied of birds, / my father’s voice: “You don’t have / to call me back…” and this thing I’ve / imagined, tangling up / the burnt parts of two secrets–struck match / smell, the wind-tunnel / of a glass cave bringing the heat. / I was missing and I’m still missing.
As if you were reclining–sideways, big as god– / Lightening strikes the first hill, flames hopping to the next. / How it moves through your soul, the burnt spots making vulgar and strange anything green! / Don’t worry. When you’re marooned in a corner of your office wondering how the stones of the walls outside / Made it in–remember, there’s no insight like the rule of your hills compulsively burning.
An armored shark in lava, I move on all fours across the rug as your daughters leap over me shrieking. With an unblinking eye, I feel the heat of the earth rise—its erupting egg, yolk-rug, and the shore of the bed—as we play.
That night you wake up to tell me you are sinking underwater. Half-asleep, I say water in dreams always means emotion. I think I feel a pair of cool hands pressing on my temples, a vial of cooking oil in my pocket…
I think of your girls and my hands flutter to tangled hair. Nearly asleep again, I’m listening to myself as a child—sloshing water in the bath, catching a fluff of bubbles in my hand.
I leave before they get up for school, and I take in the sky as I unlock my door, steam puffing up into the black. I was pulled from a car once at this hour, the middle of a soybean field, to look at Haley’s Comet. My father urging me, wake up, wake up! It’s the only time you’ll see this in your life! This piece of cotton in the sky. This fireball, this chunk of ice.
It burns! And as I seize myself in mock pain, I fall into the lava. I fall—through the rug, the ceramic tile, the layers of ground—into a core that shines, impossibly, white.
If I could figure it out, I would tell you—
Why I discover new ways to let you know I don’t need you.
Through the corridors of what is it
Dragging wicker chairs from the mudroom
Across the concrete to the damp lawn
Nearly crying it’s so fucking pleasant.
I’ve been heaving like this, away, like a dry drunk
From suburb to suburb,
Charting gravel, hating the clay doves that knock from patio eaves.
You’re taking another trip with your girlfriend
Whom you’ve recently told you can’t love
Down through a planned hurricane.
If you come out of it with all of your bearings
I’m holding a place for you in this shuttered backyard,
Two chairs the size of Lego pieces in my fists.