in the street, a small boy hums the twelve
days of Christmas under a hot June sun.
cobwebs gather like cotton in the windows
in a matter of days; i stay
up too late reading stories i already know,
wage war with my body, long to sink
drowned in a hot bath, or back down
onto the cool stone floor
of the kitchen where
you made me forget the heaviness
of my skin, where gardenia slips
through the screens– the plant
they said will never make it
through the frost.
every movement of my hand
is hedged; even dreaming;
even sweaty against the tile, there
are still more clothes to wash,
still more doubts to run clean.
it is hot for this time of year, we’re told,
no relief in storms.
it’s five a.m., and a firetruck screams red
& white through crust-eyed darkness, winding
its labyrinthine, becoming distance,
still; soft; threat.
From the skinny brown arcs
of ballerinas rooted
in a coltish breeze,
the first brittle leaves drift
limply to still-summer ground,
yellow earthbound stars
five-pointed like fingers
whose reach is destined to be crushed.
there is a silence
that holds underneath the constant hum
of voices, engines, bike treads;
the same we came here seeking
so many years ago. tiny clam shells
scattered among gravel tell how far
the sea has come, calling
to mind a beach road
i saw once, where a black man
in an old truck rode north
with one arm out the window,
the bed full of rusted chains,
whole oil drums full. like the shadow
of the hawk gliding hugely over the rooftops
that bank the park, i want it
to mean something, to be more
than soundless commentary:
a blessing. a washing clean.
the mornings, like so many things, begin
to grow colder.
there’s a heavy dew brushed across the lilac.
petunias closed up like rigid fists in pink and white and red;
the yellow chrysanthemums already popping.
is it too late to hold out hope
of strawberries? of eggplant?
of cotton blossoms by abandoned roads
that make me sad and alone
and in love all at the same time?
like the past that won’t leave
makes me think of snow and secrets
and, for some inexplicable reason,