5.10 / October 2010

The Storm

All day it has been raining,
and all day this poem has been sinking
into my skin like sticky blossoms.
The sky a grey-blue bucket,
heavy and tarnished to its rims with
copper lightning—shaking, rumbling,
this rain I have carried in ruddy pails
from far north to the sun-thick South.

The earth is splitting at its seams,
goldenrod and foxglove and an abundant
green spilling from the red-clay heart
of the hillside.

All day it has been raining,
and you have been wanting me the way
a thirsty child begs her father—
or friend—or whoever will listen—
to lift her up to the water fountain
so she may take a sip, suck in hard,
and swallow.

Now our hands are laced, loping along
through the forest, our faces shimmering
in the good heat, skins fair against the finery
of the tall, untattling trees.
Standing, leaning,
our backs in turn to the tree,
root-worn and mossy to its crevices,
until we return to the earth somehow,
burrowing back into the beauty from which
we came—still ours to reclaim—
and your hands are in my hair, and the leaves,
and my legs wobble beneath me as though
they might collapse, and my back arches, and
my body lifts up out of itself, jolted by your fingers which
parse me perfectly down the middle—
jagged lightning of your touch,
swell of my lips and my breasts.

It was raining, as I think I mentioned,
so I was slick, slicker than usual,
so tender and joyful I could afford neither
carelessness nor fear
as when the fireflies appeared and surrounded us
with their circle of light, and the doe floated past
in pursuit of something precious
and I touched with my own hands all
that was precious in all the world to me,
and your knees buckled, and your heart braced,
and from deep in your throat
I heard you come like a loud, bright
canticle of birds.


“Bless the spine, for it is the whole story.”
–Mary Oliver

1 Even my spine sings 1
2 now, nerves eager 2
3 to serve, swimming 3
4 the long, ivory sea 4
5 of sensation, each 5
6 bone-wave toothed 6
7 for the thrill. And 7
8 when your tongue 8
9 glides over them 9
10 with its good force 10
11 and the pads of your 11
12 fingers press lightly 12
13 on the signature under 13
14 my skin, every muscle 14
15 pulls taut, then spasms 15
16 its sexual relief. And 16
17 somewhere between the 17
18 chiseled curve and the soft 18
19 slope where the flesh re- 19
20 aligns, a pulse taps, a pillow 20
21 spreads, and your head, so 21
22 drowsy from song, slips low 22
23 into crescent'”my cool moon 23
24 shivers the girth of its gold. 24