Your Color is Not Green is Not Gold
We trim late this year, girlhood tree
of clay stars and dog-bit angels,
wool knotted to sheep and snowmen,
the skirt an electric train. I’d run
its circuit as a child till sparks licked
wheels till the toy became
a flame. In your religion, men fast so
that women may absolve.
In your religion, my shape alone is sin.
To fast is to starve. To starve
is what I did when you were no longer
in their stove pots, biscuits crumbled
under napkins. My jeans
slimmed to leggings. Black dresses
unraveled to scarves. You held
me as though a bag of groceries, ringed
each ankle with your palms.
At home this winter, women gather
and chop dried apricots, braid
cheese loaves, frost bells and reindeer
in dyed rows. Women brown
apples with spices. Women spell out
names into dough. I eat
from a red plate, my back to the fire
in its brick cove. A new year,
and I must let go my resolve to love
you till my body becomes a fast,
a prayer, a light strand half-flickering
and trying to decorate your home.
Discovering Phosphorescent Algae Six Months after You’d Gone
How should I describe it for you? On a moonless
night in October we river folks swung a half-drunk
bottle of Maker’s and rushed the Gulf in our
skivvies, our heels thumping cold sand. Would
you believe me: it’s been half a year and still I feel
though you’re behind me I feel you sizing me
down. The waves lipped & pulled. We were as cold
as the whiskey allowed. You must believe me: water
lit at my fingertips and hipbones, at my ankles
& shoulder blades when I kicked & twirled. The sea
was dark but not black. The lights were clear, not
white not green not blue. How can I keep proving
myself to you? No color but the cold had silvered
my skin & lungs. I was home then I was catching
fireflies I was making love with you for the last time
in the dark you were there and then you were gone.
How did my vertebrae burn into stars? There are some
stories that cannot be told. And what does it matter?
Still you would call me impatient, still you’d call me
impossible-you who has made a life tapping out
all my secrets from sand dollars into birds into shards.