Love Song

For Hudson

When you rest your face
in my arm’s hollow,

all the echoes have stopped.
The world has become quiet since

the eagles returned to the valley.
I try to recall the last time I was so powerless

in the face of something so small
fastened to me like a frightened milk mouse, forever

vulnerable and impossible to hurt,
and I guess I never knew it

until your first feeble cry
raises an answer in me,

so much like love
it must be love.

What Remains

I thought of you this morning, dear Josephine. In early spring, the dandelions became alive again in the garden you left behind. White parachutes of fickle seedlings, gone onto the same curving road you took to get away from here. I often wonder where you are, my sweet dandelion. The light’s filling up the sky as I am writing this letter to you, thinking of all the bright summers we’ve spent in this town; thinking of your liveliness, your sadness, the knot in your heart and all that gave you scars. Remember we used to run wild in the thick of the field, somehow seeing through the boarded sky that there would be a different life, two pebbles pattering in the palm of an invisible hand, your long hair windswept and struck by moonlight. The monotonous tide didn’t matter. The hunched backs of the fishermen didn’t matter. The cold rain, the wet grass, the wind maliciously tugging at our dresses didn’t matter. We were not afraid, Josephine, of what was beyond, or what came after. When we stood on the black rock cliff to watch the sunrise, a pair of white birds circled over us like impossible love, before diving into nothingness, never to be seen. You said that is how you like to go one day. You dreamt of a world that wanted you in it, that needed your wide teary eyes and tight fists. Years later, some say that this dream was not the right kind of dream, but rather an impish shove against the breakwater that no waves could ever defy. But I want to believe you haven’t given up living a good life wherever you are. Today as I sit under this old willow tree where we used to share tiny secrets, watching leaves fall as they fall without haste, my memory of you, laughing, and holding a conch to hear the sea, is what always remains.

 

Originally published on August 25, 2016 on my old blog.

Eleventh Piece

The white frost is gone.
The lemon tree has grown.

I want to talk to you about your heart
that you’ve been neglecting lately like a cold.

And you don’t even know.

The white frost is gone.
The lemon tree has grown

so much stronger since you were here
last spring with seeds, pebbles and a hope.

Her Garden

She remembers how light the kisses once were
– all the ones she’s ever been given –
no more than butterflies at her mouth,
her wrists, her eyelids, her forehead,
and the back of her exposed knees.
Now there are moths at the window-screen
at dusk when she is weary of leaving her bed
to watch the last autumn leaf deserting
the wind-shaken poplar in her garden. Long ago
there was something in her, but now that thing is gone.
Gone are the boys of summer, buried
already in her plentiful lavender. Long ago
before all the kisses she was once just a moth girl
in her white slip on a cold summer night,
testing the fresh dews with one bare foot.
And she goes into her garden, where nothing is blooming;
she finds everything blooming.

 

Originally published on May 7th, 2016 on my old blog. 

Roses

He remembered the sound of her red stilettos,
and the way her ruby lipstick slowly coming
undone by the rim of each martini glass
that she couldn’t stop kissing. That night

the desert winds blew hot from the west.
And he watched her topple from the edge
of the bar crowd into her last martini glass
holding a toothpick with two stabbed

olives between her scarlet nails looking
like an unfinished sentence trailing off
in a silk dress and looking like nothing
could ever harm her. What happened,

happened once — the kiss that didn’t last.
And it’s been years since the moment when
he lowered his lips to hers like a parched
camel leaning into a small brook to drink

the sweet water running deep inside her,
and in his arid palms her freckles came alive
like stars in the dark desert night.
As he drew her closer to the light, he heard

the sound of two olives hitting the bottom
of the martini glass. And there were roses
on the nightstand. And the sunrise
seized the whole night.

 

Originally published on February 23rd, 2016 on my old blog. 

Daybreak

When she raised her eyes and met his gaze
the train gave an unexpected lurch.
It was an ineffable moment,
like a deer looking up from the plain
for an instant and finding berries.
The sun was rising. His pale blue eyes
and the rye field rolling out behind
his broad shoulder reminded her of
the old town she’d run away from,
where the faded rye no longer danced
when the cold wind blew, and the mad crows
beat their wings against the stony sky.
And as she smiled at him, sunlight broke
through the tin-gray clouds that gathered on
the tip of her tongue all these quiet years.

 

Originally published on January 27th, 2016 on my old blog.

The Breakup

This was after we’ve both said bitter things
and the light’s begun to fade. We stopped
at a small fishing village outside Maine.
His stubbled face looked as composed as mine
on that overcast evening, as we stood
at the edge of the hard crag listening
to the waves beat against the solemn rocks
like relentless cries from the ocean’s heart.
And he took a few steps back and said, hey
let’s get back to the car and keep going.
And I thought maybe he too was afraid
to listen – this sound we heard everywhere
we went but it left us still so broken.
At night the wind came from the sea and made
the lonely grey poplars murmur more tunes.
He did not notice, and I – although I
didn’t believe there could be more – still I
sat up in the hushed car and listened.

 

Originally published on January 22nd, 2016 on my old blog. 

Many Years Later

Many years later, she saw him standing
in the cereal aisle of AJ’s Fine Foods.
He was reading the nutrition label
on a box of frosted flakes, still wearing
his mucky white converse with no shoestrings.

It was nearing seven. The blue between
two clouds grew paler but never vanished.
A bulb of white light quivered, and kept on
quivering still on the blank store ceiling.
Without a sound she turned away to see

if she has found everything she wanted.
Somewhere over the baking supplies aisle,
two shopping carts bumped into each other,
two strangers, mumbling soft apologies,
carefully went on their separate ways.

 

Originally published on January 9th, 2016 on my old blog.