There is a mouth in me
asking to be given its voice.
My hands beg to be freed
from this rock. God, little daughter,
arriving in waves at home.
We work together. You crown, stop.
As though I want no one
to answer, I tap the damp scalp.
How do you rest so close to the edge?
You: purple, open-mouthed.
I have nothing to coo. Cetus
Closes his teeth. I conjured him.
Your tongue stabs at the air.
O, blood at my feet, night.
Little mouth, drugged, looking to nurse
And unable to take hold.
Somehow, I thought you’d want to eat alone,
A state you’d grown to master—brandy glass,
A man behind your chair to fill your plate,
A girl to bring you chocolate mousse, then candy.
As another poet wrote: What do
I know of love’s austere and lonely offices?
You know I’d do most anything for you.
You ask to see “your” beach—the one you call
Your paradise. I drive you there. We stare
Into the green. Those times I thought about
In lines above were times when you were fair,
as they said then, and young, and coming out
to your society. And nothing’s like that
today. No balls, no fancy, feathered hats.
The Problem with Describing Men
If I said lacerated light
In an unusually warm November.
If I said ice-cold palm on my inner thigh
And the way a tree opens its branches
When sun finally heats the garden.
If I said the power of a ‘67 Charger
Mixed with a detective’s mystery.
If I said love, sometimes, yes, love
And jumping-from-a-moving-car anger.
Said the whir of a sander, the scent
Of birch, and tablespoons of sawdust.
What if I said night or a wave
Rocking into shore? If I said their names
One by one to the red sky? Said empty armchair?
Luck, dusky words, fight, torn photo.
What if I said moon? What if I said
White light dividing a lake in two?
The Space Coast
An Airedale rolling through green frost,
cabbage palms pointing their accusing leaves
at whom, petulant waves breaking at my feet.
I ran from them. Nights, yellow lights
scoured sand. What was ever found
but women in skirts folded around the men
they loved that Friday? No one found me.
And how could that have been, here, where
even botanical names were recorded
and small roads mapped in red?
Night, the sky is black paper pecked with pinholes.
Tortoises push eggs into warm sand.
Was it too late to have come here?
Everything’s discovered. Everything’s spoken for.
The air smells of salt. My lover’s body.
Perhaps it is too late. I want to run
the beach’s length, because it never ends.
The barren beach. Airedales grow
fins on their hard heads, drowned surfers
resurface, and those little girls
who would not be called back to safety are found.