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On a rainy day in Seattle stumble into any coffee shop
and look wounded by the rain.
Say Last time I was in I left my black umbrella here.
A waitress in a blue beret will pull a black umbrella
from behind the counter and surrender it to you
like a sword at your knighting.
Unlike New Englanders, she’ll never ask you
to describe it, never ask what day you came in,
she’s intimate with rain and its appointments.
Look positively reunited with this black umbrella
and proceed to Belltown and Pike Place.
Sip cappuccino at the Cowgirl Luncheonette on First Ave.
Visit Buster selling tin salmon silhouettes
undulant in the wind, nosing ever into the oncoming,
meandering watery worlds, like you and the black umbrella,
the one you will lose on purpose at the day’s end
so you can go the way you came
into the world, wet looking.
Some days I walk down the street
where we lived and the fat man
who stole tomatoes
sits under the same old sycamore
tapping out his angry rhythms
on the knotted roots. And though
the children are no longer ours,
the oaks are no less generous
to the sidewalks with their shade.
Overhead, sweet air still arrives
through many simple branches—
some reaching skyward for joy,
others downcast for a reason.
We were like good trees
the years we lived on this street.
We were so green. Fresh as leaves.
And the days whispered through us.
Poetry, I tell my students,
is idiosyncratic. Poetry
is where we are ourselves,
(though Sterling Brown said
“Every ‘I’ is a dramatic ‘I’”)
digging in the clam flats
for the shell that snaps,
emptying the proverbial pocketbook.
Poetry is what you find
in the dirt in the corner,
overhear on the bus, God
in the details, the only way
to get from here to there.
Poetry (and now my voice is rising)
is not all love, love, love,
and I’m sorry the dog died.
Poetry (here I hear myself loudest)
is the human voice,
and are we not of interest to each other?
As a girl she body surfed on the tidal sandbars,
the crest of wave and foam bearing down on her,
the fluid twist, lunge, and launch, the rush
of being borne away, salt water calling back and forth
through her skin.
After years in New England, she moved
back to Wrightsville, but the beach is a different place
to be now, her lost breast harder to hide.
A navy blue one-piece replaces her floral bikini
covering the zipper stitches of surgery.
She rented a beach cottage to hear the waves at night,
a gentle pull toward the water like a calling.
I coaxed her back into the ocean with strong marijuana
the day the reprieve of her remission was revoked.
She was tentative at the edge, back and forth,
until the longing overwhelmed her.
The waves spread and respread themselves
on the shore in inches of foamy smoothness,
came towards us in perfect curls
unrolling glassy green and blue.
Holding hands we went to meet them,
diving under the curls,
waiting for the perfect one to break and carry us.
And it came, gathered us, sucked up us,
turned us over and shot us out toward the shore,
arms out ahead in a hurtling horizontal dive
and then gone,
The sun was hot in the place we loved.
Remember the grass and the sun right on us?
How it bore down! And the feeling of breathing
under glass. Each expression magnified.
Each sense focused. Edges browning, curling,
ready to burn. Then the first pale flames rising.
And you in the field in that lovely dress!
Summer-colored. Buttons up the back.
Those dark stockings with the sexy runs.
And no coat for cover or blanket under us.
O you were fine and the grass green and long.
But so hot. Almost painful. The blades cutting.
And sun in the grass so sweetly crushed.
And your legs moving like parts of me.
And love, on its knees in the grass
promising to remember us.
three small scars on knuckles
make sounds in the early morning
maroon nail polish peeling back
like pages in a romance novel
this is my venn diagram situation
and urging it on
like i do when i want to come in a hurry
the intersection of two body parts
creates new territory
remnants of glitter eye shadow on two fingers
beauty as instant as coffee
actual union occurs as often as
a balanced checkbook
you have mannequin hands, he points out
it is hard to disagree
with this observation
since I’d forgotten for a moment where you are,
I search for you with hope in my bones.
snap the branch
to wake with the sun,
cratering my expectations.
I slept to escape caving in,
to keep my ghosts between us.
grinding teeth against the cold,
I continue deep
beneath the hands. between the gears.
with time, I could have you.
but you choke from a tree
forever being planted.
that we, as immersed as bone,
should never have let grow.