after Mary Ruefle


I too have smuggled my life through every conceivable hour—

heard the doorbell and hid, bitten the salt covered lime and my tongue.

I can’t imagine how I should be.

                                                                Sometimes the wind witnesses

tantrums in me. I walk quickly through alleys,

sneer at strollers— those sorts of things.

                                                                                         The phone

will not ring if I want it to. I will open

                               the fridge to an absence of milk. These are certainties

regardless of virtue.

                                                              I concede that

I’ve been an unforgivable mistress and write

love letters to men who’ve moved away. They

won’t come back, and what’s it matter?

                               This is love’s venue anyway.

Do the days watch my figure?                                Certainly they’ve changed my face.

Every stroke and scar                     is an Indian summer

I’ll never feel.                                     I don’t think I’ve ever wanted anything.

The seasons are specifying forever, lifting their tattoos.







Memory is not  a green  raft paddled  to the  dock’s end.  I made myself  this way, got in a  heavy skin.
We patrolled the  tall grasses  looking for  this bird,  that bird, of unspecified  breeds. What we found
was a slop bucket of dead beetles. What we wanted was instant love. I could never handle that pond
or  swim  the  dream  of  creatures  so close  and in  pain. Even  you  couldn’t touch  the bottom. You
could  look  across the  highway to  the prison  and spin  stories of  inmates climbing  barbed wire to
murder us at night.  I’d give you  every  tantrum. I’d sit  in a broken  swing, knees  sweaty with  backs
bitten. One season the earth curled  around us and  stretched our thoughts beneath it. Birds are not
your letters in a box burned under the Kansas sun.





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