There she is.
I wondered how she’d look tonight
when earlier today
I swept free the cobwebs from the legs of a patio chair.
Irritable and stately,
half a cloud sliding from one nude shoulder.
Radiant and hungry,
searching for the approval she knows she deserves.
Wide eyed and watchful
99.7 percent full
encountering the events of the world
just as it is today:
November on the coat of a cat.
Crickets at precisely 7:58 PM.
and my mother,
sliding in a pan of cupcakes for my birthday.
What if all our little deaths
are as beautiful as fall?
even the savage that swallows us
wears on its face
our sweet aftertaste
for others to see.
Who’s to say a leaf whirling casually
to its end
doesn’t feel in its dry vein
the same absurdity as cancer
or a broken heart?
It all reminds me of this strange dream I had last night
where I inherited a mansion
historic and regal
the smallest one in a row
of like majesty
but in the basement
rats were eating other rats
and larger rodents paced in cages
all I really remember now
is how beautiful the light looked in the upstairs window.
If I accomplished nothing else today
I planted nepeta cataria
inside the broad mouth of a flower pot
leftover from my grandfather’s passing.
I held a pony tail of her sticky locks
and considered long the origin of her species,
the ancient quality of dirt unearthed
with five extra heaves of a shovel,
and of Annie Dillard for no good reason at all,
ruffling the tips of winter-killed grass
with the flat of her palm.
Loving her not for those words
but for how they make me know her.
I whispered nepeta cataria
for the animal of that root bundle
to rouse with startled delight
inside the dark.
I stumbled upon an old photo of us
This slow Saturday
breeze in my brain
turned it over
and there I am
on my parent’s roof with you
4th of July
grinning into the crook of your neck
our sleeping daughter beneath our bodies
on that tiny couch
my mom bought her for Christmas
I don’t recall seeing any fireworks until
we stood to climb down the ladder
Flowers of light collapsing
that only I remember
I’ve had many independence days since then
each one stuck to the dark overhead
I press my ear against
How much can you swallow before it swallows you back
When the empty is heavier than the sky that he held over his head for losing
to Gods who have no business being Gods
I thought about that today
going back up the stairs to my office after a particularly shitty phone call
Miserable, heavy, hopeless
Holding up the sky on my shoulders, still trying to remember the name of that Titan
and suddenly grinning like a Sufi
Remembering none of that
when a fat squirrel, one I’ve seen many times, paused just long enough outside the glass
Reminding me of my Grandpa who died when I was twelve
and solitary balloons still make me believe he is reaching out
that stupid squirrel made me drop the sky
and fall to my knees and laugh
Dead poets line four walls
Fixed eyes, thin skin choking on dust
Quit looking for me here, they say
The best part of living is what you learn alone in the dark when the rest of the world sleeps
All the losing and winning
Brimming and seeping
from pottery shards unearthed in our lost worlds
No man can taste your power like my ancient tongue
The absence of Love is more passionate than the having
Drape my soul over your hip bones
Trail a finger from your hairline to the tip of your nose
Court us both with that storm punishing your window
Lust like a starving god after the you that has no body
Call out your own name
Whimper: Open your eyes beautiful
Grin at the blond strand of hair you lift from my spine in the morning
But just know that was only the beginning…
The TV could be on in the other room
You’d be on your laptop half interested in everything, nothing
Anything but me
Our daughter would be somewhere here; absently, greedily eating illusions
And I’d be dying quietly,
no differently than I am now…
Except that now I get to walk the catacomb like a priestess
with Jack Gilbert in my hands
And think maybe I’ll start a little fire in the backyard tonight with the new moon