Pisces

Beside you I mimic the sea,
all tides and currents

washing away silt and sandbar.
I am set off by moons,

the light drowning scent of salt
that covers our skins.

Magpie

There is an empty nest in me.
Each day I add to it.
Paper, twigs, string: I weave them with moss.
It is a shell, shallow and wide.
Inside I store rings of amber and glass
scavenged from the black road.

Last night I plucked the blue from your eyes.
Then I embroidered the nest. Far above the jays sang,
their cries circling the edges of me,
one not of their own.

Wound

A cut
on the roof of my mouth–
to tongue it hurts.
I forgot the sweet
pain of reconnecting
tissue. The pearls
of bone beneath,
maxilla and mandible,
slivers of teeth you’ve loved.
Today I ate the leftovers
before they went bad.
Each bite stung.
I practiced swallowing
the ache with the taste
of your mouth,
          its dear milk.

Words

          Allow me
to draw alliteration
from your lips–
let stark consonance
drip through the sieve
inside me to melt
the constant winter.

Archeology

He says a coelacanth stirs
each moment we’re alone,
long and slow: something old
below the surface, timeless,
unknown. I am present,

                          I think,
as he speaks of long-ago
extinctions, fossils
dug with fingers smudged
in dirt. I experience
him similarly, spiral
ammonites of past lovers
hiding beneath the hard
sedimentary layers, only
my skeleton knowing

death is rediscovery.

Eyes

Roman à clef eyes:
I do not trust them,
their clear and earnest
lies. Give me gunsmoke
and fever burning,
a collection of wars
deep inside, striking
reality without fiction.

First Date

Will you unzip
me? My dress,
yes, but all other
parts besides: a
tongue locked behind
teeth, thin nails
hooked against a palm,
a chest tightened
fast by old stays.
Is your sweetness
of word enough
to begin?

Directions

“I want to be a compass of you,
your every location
a common place
to my pilgrim’s touch.

Erupt and replenish me:
your volcano self, fertile ash
that I till into gardens;
the amazon banks of your rivers
from which I pan gold.

This is an understanding,
the north and the south of you:

Beneath the polestar
where I wait, the movement
of auroras to guide me

home.

Written for Denise and Dave for their wedding, October 2, 2011.

Like Saturn’s Children

you surrender to the hungry
lips that mark the throat
I have given you

it is your combat
to supplicate, mouthing
words I will not hear

this is your love,
the shadow that crosses my heart

its beating of wings

January returns only once

every year, she says. I don’t believe
her, those words like lines we cross

on our way to the library to pay our dues.
She is final. I believe her in the way

I believe in Santa Claus or Satan:
without my heart in it, always

expecting something more than what I’m told.

She folds paper cranes like that, too
quickly. An expert in excess: unnecessary.

I know she will let me wallow in myself
until she folds me into that shape,

the portions of us we have mapped.