I Wanted to Be Enormous: 45th Post

                                 NO SAVING

In the night a car plowed sideways through our front yard
and left a tall cedar pointing into our bedroom window,
like a prosecuting attorney asking who
did what, when, where.

“Did you put on gloves?” a friend asked about my being
first on the scene. God I forgot. I wanted
to save someone. But limber as gymnasts
the drunk driver and passenger stuck their landing.

There was that time when Chris came shouting
into my kitchen and I tended her cut scalp,
tried to get her to call the police, stuck my anger
behind my face and just cleaned

the red sink, red counters, red floor.
No gloves. No saving.

And the time a man who needed a bath and clean clothes
heckled us marchers at a Pride parade.
Most of the women said Have a nice day and kept walking but
he called me a name whose invisible weight

tilted a scale inside me. I didn’t aim
for his face and miss.
I aimed for his hat brim
and it took his head with it.

What were you thinking? my lover shouted
as the man walked away fast, muttering.
God I don’t know. I wanted
to stop him. I wanted

to get his attention.
To make him afraid.
I wanted to be enormous
to save someone.

Not Angels: 44th Post

ADMITTANCE TO THE CITY OF ANGELS

Returning from Central America I made
the smallest jest at the passport station
and found myself in line C4. Three places
ahead stood a Latino—tall, late thirties
perhaps, crisp white clothes, Panama hat,
shepherding two large bags and a
rolled hammock.

He stood straight and still as they
emptied his bags mechanically,
two factory workers deconstructing, unfolding trousers,
uncoiling a belt, unrolling mated socks, tossing item after item
on the stilled conveyor belt.
He kept his hands in his pockets as they opened bottles and tubes
and poured and squeezed them empty into a bucket
that smelled at first like wheat fields.

He removed his hands from his pockets and hung them
as they opened every envelope and read each letter,
hefted, smelled, and felt the safety razor, hairbrush, and dental floss,
removed the back from a framed picture and separated the photo from
its backing, tapped the heels of tall black boots, unscrewed the barrel
of a gold fountain pen, dropping each item
onto the growing heap.

They spoke, and he removed his hat. They slit the hatband
neatly as surgeons. I saw him breathe in
when they cut the cord that held the large hammock,
pulling the ornate poles from the grip
of knotted white loops, leaving them stretched and dangling,
close-parentheses in a tight row.
They pried off the ends of the poles and peered inside,
tilting them like telescopes toward the fluorescent lights above.

The agents closed the line and went away with the man
for half an hour. The rest of us waited, assembling our faces into
nothing. He was buttoning his white shirt as they returned.

After the agents turned to the next person in line, the man labored
to assemble the hammock but gave up, wrapping the pieces
in the stretched body. He worked over his clothes, moving
his large hands through the wrinkled heap of shirts,
pants, envelopes, camera, underwear. Just before I was called
I saw him wrap a belt around his hand and jab it into the solar plexus
of his bathrobe. He stood a moment, hand buried, then went on,
folding a towel, blue with a white monogram.

Erosion: 40th Post

Flowers starting to wilt sm

THE WOMAN WHO FELL INTO DISREPAIR

forgets that parts of her
are missing
that other parts once
angled for attention

she took time
as if it couldn’t be bent, flattened, eliminated, reordered
and effort
as if it was matter
as if it mattered
as if it could be compressed or exploded, colored in, Photoshopped out
with her everywhere,
twin burdens slung from a yoke

she ignored the warnings all around
the flags, sirens, scars, flashing
beacons, allergic reactions, slaps on the
cheek, fullness, emptiness, the color red,
the lack of color

she had let it go let it all go let it go let the cells
puff up or fall where they would into the cracks in her arms and legs
over the dents in her lips through the tunnels in her scalp
into the empty spaces she’d forgotten

a landfill of woman
a historical dustbin
an entire lost tribe
too remote and ugly to signify

Anything to Grab Onto: 26th Post

Bald Eagle sm

Lament

–for my mother

The time

everyone else

had left the party but the music was still throbbing

and Stefan

two languages

away from me

had my blouse half undone–

that’s the light

I mean

orange

smelling of alcohol

dangerous with its promise of brilliant regret

The time

I jumped

heavily clothed into the water

for lifesaving practice

and the water

pulsed

above me

reflections subdividing like amoebas–

that’s the distance

I mean

deeper than

my arm’s length

resonant with resistance

The time

I climbed

on Trinidad Head

alone on black wet rock

shocked

by the sudden

brawl

of ocean too close–

that’s the texture

I mean

where anything to grab onto

is life

even if it tears your flesh like a cat’s claw