Top of the world
We’re flying over snow-buried land,
flat and tree-less.
This desolation is the quickest route
between two places where people live.
At one end, a bustling town,
at the other, a burgeoning city.
But I’m learning what separates them:
a wilderness masquerading as a calm.
If it weren’t for the clear sky,
the landscape would never know what season it is.
It’s supposed to be summer.
But that season’s buried somewhere deep below.
Only the light tells otherwise,
twenty-four hours of it
in all directions.
We’re all that’s living.
We bear the responsibility
and move on.
Six months after the miscarriage
A gray and cold afternoon,
and you sit cross-legged on the bedroom floor,
still in your dressing gown,
rocking an imaginary child in your arms.
You whisper “quiet” in
your husband’s direction,
and he obeys.
“There, there,” you say softly.
“Go to sleep. He won’t hurt you.”
The baby sleeps but not you.
Your wakefulness is as persistent
as the April rain.
And your hands resist his hands.
A kiss on your cheek provokes a snake hiss.
There’s nothing more present in a home
than what can never be.
That’s why the bathroom closet’s
stuffed with diapers,
and there’s always a bottle
boiling on the stove.
You see a psychiatrist
but you mistake him for a pediatrician.
He suggests admitting you some place restful.
You’re concerned that their facilities
won’t provide for the baby’s needs.
There’s nothing in your arms.
There’s nothing for you in the man you married.
No wonder you insist
the baby looks so much like his father.
My relationship with cemeteries
This fancy script
could be a lover’s,
and the huge mausoleum,
no doubt a rich man’s
bragging from the afterlife.
Here is the grave of a young girl.
That explains the weather-beaten teddy bear
pawing at the ground.
The seeds I sprouted from
is here somewhere.
I can’t find them however.
There are lots of angels about
but none of them point the way.
So the graves of others will have to do.
Like these eighteenth-century stones,
incisions so faint
they may as well be my forebears.
Or this odd epitaph,
“Roar like a lion.”
Maybe there’s no ape in my backstory.
Merely, a loud, obnoxious feline.
I am not fascinated by what I see around me.
Nor am I repulsed.
Everything is so matter of fact.
Like death itself
And humanity’s vast experience
in getting rid of bodies.
To be honest,
I’d rather my descendants
didn’t waste their time
seeking out my plot.
Burial is just mulching
but with more patience.
So, if a cremator
solicits volunteers for burning,
I’ll raise my hand.
I’ll leave it up
until I’m dead.
The light lingered, though frayed,
bits here and there my eyes tried to piece
together but eventually, like cake, falling
apart in my fingers. Dark wants to be solid
like the snow that traps road and sidewalk
and field equally, that cares as little for human
transport as for growing. I’ve lost the grass,
and then went the shine. Just headlights now,
jagged and jittery, not bothering to show footprints
or the claw-marks of the plows. Just somber cars
moving slow, almost still, like they have no people
in them. Frost moves in for the window, with lamp
behind, breaks down the face in glass. If the
moment wants me, it will have to piece the jigsaw,
press ear to intermittent cheek, merge chin with mouth,
connect the flurried eyes, then match them with
a white-washed brow. Can’t be done. Thankfully,
someone in the next room calls my name. It’s why
we have rooms and not just landscapes