You dreamed, continually, of water,
Of gulfs spreading out in darkness, of rain
Overflowing potted plants, a river
That for reasons you couldn’t quite explain
Had childhood at its source and emptied, too,
Muddled voices, a seascape—blue on blue
You half liked it there, but woke up thirsty,
Stunned by the loud yellow alarm of noon.
The sunlight blasting through the trellised creeper
Made shadows on the bare walls of your room
That were as real as vine, only darker,
As you lay wondering who would find you
With blood blooming on the wall behind you.
I have learned to camouflage myself in church,
Masking my body
With the body of a saint.
Who is twelve? Not you, in absolute skirt
and sweet on treasures twisted out
from underneath the pokeweed and plywood.
Someone has promised you sticky canyon jewels,
and then showed you where to put your hands,
saying, It’s like peeling the sky
There is no single moment of loss, there is an amassing.
I dreamed the tangled crush of magic peels/ in the wax leaves made a spell of bones/ and everything bloomed big and better than/ before, and beyond the barbed wire, beyond / this fence of angry fists there’s a breathing, / there’s a breathing underwater.
Childhood dotted with bodies.
Let them go, let them
No, I said,
make them stay, make them stone.
broke your back?
when you were six and dusty blonde
playing in the gravel
quiet and alone
before the days started pulling teeth
before the days started pushing back
…Here’s the list
of promising careers: Muskrat we’ll cross out.
Blue spruce on a half acre? Nest-fleeing cardinal?
Maybe? Let’s mark it. Throw-pillow by the fire?
Asphalt-dinged Route 40 road sign? Lost gold
stud in the sand? Anything? We’ll keep going.
Abandoned Chevy in near-mint condition? One stone
in the Grand Canyon at sunset? No, I agree, too much
responsibility. How about this—the iron clapper
in a wind chime. Well, I don’t know, my dear—
I imagine you’d have to create the wind yourself.
Consider the exit, the exit 19: it’s trees till it’s cables… Comes cupped in paper, my upper, my intake, I’m often exhausted in stores.
What’s drifting or drinking in rivers looks oily—
the quivery light of the sun. I’m speaking of mouths, of chairs, meds, laps. Of Bibles and plush and bile and bills. Like nothing that comes from the cry in the wall, like nothing the ghost out the side of my head. A woman who hangs with Biblical figures can’t speed her departure, her anger’s still firm. Piled up bedclothes; it looks like they lost one; there’s nothing but waiting, there’s nothing but waiting, there’s nothing but waiting and meals.
of the milk of human kindness.
Rest in the white
of Heaven’s blindness…
Loneliness is a dense thing. There’s no data inside a collapsed star. My tongue glides into a ring of silence. My heart beats in practical terms. There is no moon, no cycle, no time. X-rayed a thousand times, my sex is neutered. What cooks inside are sulphur, calcium, and iron—the stuff from blood and bones, the stuff from fermenting stars.
Along the path, a biological oddity: an appendix of a human, or a pelvis buried deep within a whale. Vestigial, a question of evolution.
When she had the puppies
that bent mother’s flowers
and you got so angry at the bitching
about broken stems and clods of dirt
that you pulled down your shotgun
with the white diamond on the butt,
opened the doghouse that you built
because she was going to birth a mess of them,
when you shot those puppies—and made
worse than a widow of the family dog—
that is when I withdrew
and that is where I have stayed.