(and for Steph Rogers, too)
Planted the columbines
in an Aprilful afternoon
It's been a hard year
for dying. Last week
my friend said: My my my.
She set a standard
for how we think
of ourselves, didn't she.
Women poets, that is.
Didn't intend to April
planted instead the annuals.
Then she willed me out
to the perennial squaredance,
and I spun the poems around
Not sorry but would,
with a gift for burning,
recall last fall, when someone
said: we've finished our various
augusts and started in
with the embers.
They can't leave completely,
one hundred percent
of what some ever spoke
aloud, recorded somehow.
One hundred percent
of what she ever spoke
allowed more, megaphoned:
like a begonia flashing
scarlet so many stories up.
Taking-April warmed early,
the May Pond shimmered
elsewhere, and the first vixen
of the season remains in her red
shadow, but from here on, I share
the notion of fox with her,
looking up always from the silvery
bend in the road of 1965,
and her with the photograph taken
in Alabama that echoed
a road ahead, neither then-wife
nor she, nor she-fox nor I
could have known what was mirrored here
central Ohio, where the woods hold
too, a tree hoop-skirted with deadly vine
where women meet and together pull the heavy
ivory needle through. A tree considers time
only barely--but when she died,
somewhere inside itself,
a trunk gained another ring.
A ligneous Saturn, an earthy myth.
Hidden. A glossary absent our classification
we wander then, undefined nameless,
spelling ourselves out to the palms
of our own hands. Might she marvel
to find us, written in our own hand,
hidden in our own hides, thriving.
The other world muffled now, harmless
and the body of us, a sea beginning
An ocean's origins confound us,
the sybaritics of each day
undress our wounds, say
what we must about passing
us by, or on and among these years, imagine,
a woman's meaning to another woman,
magnifies: sisters in the distance,
the braided language spoken
in long walks, into bathroom mirrors
where we speak to the eyes
reflected off the glass, or browsing
where we speak as we file through
clothing racks and we know to pause
when the hangers pause, to stop mid
philosophical musing and suggest
how well that color harmonizes with our flesh.
Sometimes she rejects sunlight,
opens to the flourishing fields
the refusal of umbrellas, caped
in rain, the frosted windows
embroidered with cold thread.
A least once the sun rejects
her and together we're unforgetful,
the train tracks of our bones
parallel, the destinations varied.
Inside us, the marshaling yards
grow shady, connections we
might have made fall into night's
long fall and we tarry, separate
malingerers. We spill ahead
into a steely nowhere.
Certain words occur:
enemy, oven, sorrow, enough
to let me know
she's a woman of my time.
To be a forest escaping, a tree
broken-out of the greenhouse,
a fractured satellite hooked
by a fork of branch, unrooted
we travel, half-dead and dragging
our arteries against
the blood-soaked earth aswirl. Hush,
the moon is a head full of whispers,
listen: the voices are hers.
Dear season of loss,
deer season antler-stabbed
and velvety. A ghostly appetite
eats at us, the assertions
of the tentative haunters
wash through the woods
but to the untrained eye,
it looks like moss.
The fawn-colored earth,
buries us in doe-silence.
Something told, something true,
something sorrowed, something
grew in the telling, like a fish
or a mountain. At such elevation
first the air is blue then it is bluer,
first we are something then we
are the sum of things.
A summary, luckless we meander
visitors to our own states, our bodies
under siege, our mouths weary
from explanation. What seemed
like a shared-wisdom about us,
some days falling
between the suspicious
and the superstitious.
Each doomed day passes
and makes way for another.
I drink Mayan cocoa
and watch for seams
in the calendar: a centennial,
a millenium is best, a belief
that if this doomsday doesn't end us,
the next one will. It's worse than that:
our doom is singular, a chorus
singing all day, all days unharmonious
and out of tune. Ask her, she's out there now:
all ether, all song.
She thought the dress would mend
itself, slash and strap, buttonholes,
so much frayed and faded,
even the balloon print,
To brook no passage,
the mixed-up dialogue
when we crossed
the Mad River. Never
jest, sorrow, lent
The foxes live in the sky
blue house, abandoned
now for years.
The windows filled with seashells,
porcelain horses, the souvenirs
of where the living travel.
Mementos of the mortal
outdated fragments, keys
to unlock no-memory
only clutter for the kids
to take away, But year after
year, they fail.
In the sci-fi version: the vixen
shades us. the magic of an enchanted
forest ghosty, the mysterious ripples
on the reservoir only her soles
bridging the banks, arriving with mercury-silvery
footprints, staining the shores with rolling light.
And what of the longer-dead?
Homes we place our ears against
and listen for the sound of the sea.
The detritus of the late
creatures, the waves they weathered.
All that they left behind, patient and wild:
even their chalky coffins are fans
Some hours: the delicate balance
of preparing blowfish. Each recipe,
a warning, each bite, a dare.
Let's dredge the pond of your muteness
where drowned things live again.
No one has imagined us, we want to live like trees
Instead, we're under the microscope, flying under
the radar, above the treeline, below the water table,
prepositions of an ailing grammar, but breathing,
breathing greeting the moon and more than stone.
The judicious sky suggested both:
measure and betrayal but the severed saplings
the girdled trunks emboldened her to call the ranger.
What can't cry out, cries in any case, a whole
crop of trillium flattened under the wheels,
the whimsical hackings at small, living trees,
made her alone inside.
The morning was a tree fallen
on a red car driven by tourists
from Lao. Or wrapped around
a light pole, or warped against
a building. The morning moved
from one state to the next, your
head on some ever-pillow