a name from memory,
sudden as whiskey, can stir
an almost particulate warmth,
slow dust spun to gold
in late afternoon light.
funny how things so disparate
sidle up: in late October
the red leaves from the playground
drift through gaps in the chain link
to gather among the graves.
we call this neighborhood,
the shawl-draped woman
walking her dog by the track’s length,
disappearing behind a half-
felled oak as the sun shrinks
behind a cloud. the gray rows
huddle close, engraved
with their sad stories; the wind
pushes the swings in longing,
remembering the girl she maybe was.
on a good night, you can only hear
the gunshots. there are missing teeth
the size of a map where the fence
meets the dying trampled grass,
the dog shit someone has left
in the weed-pebbled gravel.
by the front gates, the sign reads
no thru traffic.
a name from memory,
I unwind the poison from her stone,
the browning leaves that cling to sad life, place
the bright plastic against cold granite with backward
glances as we remember, forgetting. Time,
it does this. And sunshine is flung like gunshot
through the shadowed cuts as we lengthen our way
homeward from the coast, slow pine-studded miles west
with the oaks just beginning to turn
like bad memories. Last night i gave birth
to a boy in a brackish, wood-paneled clinic, waking
to the urgency of birdcall and sirens on Sunday morning.
Not wishing to startle, i don’t say a word.
There is a lonely peace in the long autumn light:
we place a black bow on the blue front door,
make out on the limping couch. Re-birth is too much
to dream for, but we take our comfort in ritual, in what is left.
wherein i grow cozy in the glow of lies,
my skin safe, my breath a purr even
as fall falls, the skies deepening their blue:
cornflower, cobalt, sapphire; darken
to the slate of reckoning season, & i
have counted these shades before—
they are a luck charm to hang
over the headboard, a warding like the spray
bottle i use on the cat. our river spills
its tears over burnt summer
banks, burying the rocks in their sea-dreaming,
making bitter waterfalls of our riverpaths.
the gutters overflow, seeping into the walls,
leaving stains in the corners around the bed
where i watch the season change by the fade
of its tan lines.