Posts Tagged ‘my baggage’

I so wanted to love this sunset,
so many moments here
I waited with the sand
fleas, the whip of sea
oats on my cheek
in the whirling wind.

But all I can consider
is that dream about my mother,
the way she walked still,
how she fell in the dream
like the man we saw
at the restaurant by the lake,
face-first flat with his walker rolled
down the aisle between the table-boats.

She was there in the dream,
laid out like that man,
head lolling and eyes
domed like a red-furred tarsier.

In the dream, my phone
had slipped from the flannel-front
pocket of the shirt I’d scavenged
from some evicted neighbor’s things.
Too late I’d hooked it from the lake,
hand a claw, a yellowing leg
of a hag’s hut. And the only passerby
refused, no matter how I begged,
to wait with my mother while I ran.
Ran. When I returned she’d gone somewhere.
The lady, and my mother.

So I have to tell you, fish, tell you pier,
tell you barnacle bisecting my palm
as sand shifts and I stay my fall,
I tried so hard to love this sunset.
Now my back’s to you.
Now my calves quake as I climb the dunes.

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I missed the milestones
turned in the turn of fall –

still four years to spend
before half my life ago

my professor excused me from reading
Dostoyevsky the morning after

Heavenly Creatures and a night
spent redialing an unanswered phone.

I’d meant to pick it up again,
after the grief and the comp,

before the diploma. But I never did;
since then he’s died, and now

amid the pumpkins and the fade of fallen
leaves, I’m as likely to remember

an excuse’s anniversary as I am
the absence underpinning it.

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The staircase didn’t seem to loom before,
not from my periphery
while I padded past its foot,
left for later the second-story
search as bookcases, binders,
loosed leaves led
like river pebbles dotting
pappy moss from the forest’s fringe
to the clearing
and the cauldron
at its heart.

The attic and its ember-ring I knew
better than to break into.

But after I hear her wish
only to sleep, to wait among the rafters,
I remember your last message played
back from the black two-tape machine,
heralded by red-disc strobe
warning like a lighthouse
from the upper oak ledge
of my dorm room desk,
a record so long its end never vanished
under crests of study dates and walks to lunch
and the pall of a bare “Call home.”

The spooling poles relayed
a dwindling account
of all your fight ebbing out
in a sanctuary lit mostly by prayer,
ending with a finality of “insurmountable,”

and so I wish my arrow might fly faster,
to sprint up the foreboding stairs and wind
my way to the red-shift attic,
green-track fervor and yellow-page dread
propelling pedal and pulse and a longing
to be in time this time.

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Alone with dust, upended
tacks, and a puncture through my palm,
I’m pinned in the kindergarten corner,
bruised by the same stone that anchors my hem
to the speckled classroom tile,
thrown not at me, but at the little boy
who wets his pants, who sits
now on one of last month’s magazines
in dry shorts shaken from a grocery bag.
All the other children, goaded
by the teacher, call us “baby.”
and I crave palmetto’s resilience,
for the shots to rebound back at the cannons
still smoking along drying decks
shadowed by the whip of false colors.

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You bore a gilded query and a welcome,
a call to quest and a key
half blade, half seed,
with the barest hint
toward a furrow I followed
from cairn to col
to buckling columns and a staircase leading down.

I wish I’d kept it to myself when I was done.
You always had another thing
to say before I drew the dome off
from the secret.

And apart from you, from your whispered clues,
your always teasing twist toward truth,
your many synonyms for “deeper,”
when I had the key I had the rooms behind the door.

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