on the first day of autumn, no bite in the air

there is chatter in the café, but not enough
to drown the silence in the kitchen, not
enough to distract from the sticky smudged drops
on the windows, which are
not enough to tempt the flies who gather instead
around the bar, by the open bottles, in your hair;
not enough hours to make something worthwhile, not
enough dollars to not worry; not enough rain
in the cotton-capped sky, not enough sincerity
to draw out a smile, not enough metaphor to hide,
not enough words not enough to explain,
not enough energy to run, not enough
to make her want to stay.

Uncoded

the river swells in her bed, an ocean
trapped in an earthy body. the rains

haven’t stopped all summer; violence
ripples in her skin. on the right shoulder

of the bridge, an ambulance
idles flashing. 20 feet ahead, the water

rescue team is parked, bright red against
gray concrete. men

lean into the rail, searching,
their whole minds in their eyes,

scanning movement for movement,
pushing the churn of fear

down behind only: see.
there is a faith in this, whatever

they believe at home on a Sunday.
a blind looking, in hope.

one gets a message
on the radio at his hip.

they climb back in their trucks.
there is nothing

but current below, wild ever-dance
of waters downstream. a sadness

in the way the ambulance pulls
away, its lights extinguished.

 

Like new leaves to frost in April

so many things can get lost
forever. like that cutting I stole
from a prickly pear outside the Mexican place
in Oyster Point when I lived there
for six weeks, learning
to deliver babies. never did
get it to bloom, and never did catch
a kid, either: one little bud
all I wanted to make it feel a little less
like killing time. I hauled
the thing back up the coast, nurtured
it for years, flowerless; left it with the rest
on the backporch that day after
mother died.  haven’t troubled
my hand with cactus since—
the yard all lavender and rose now,
like that bubblebath I brought her
that she never got to use,
only with thorns.