There’s no one who could be everything
for me. That’s what I tell you
walking up seventh, and I think it sounds
good. The flea-market has just opened.
You hold up a mirror for fifteen dollars:
I see cheekbones and clouds.
I see you sad. And then gone.
In traffic, I check my face.
In windows I remember what my body
looks like: it is filled with shoes,
then dishware, then locals sitting
at wooden tables. They are hungry.
Once, in a town called Rising Star,
I bought a bag of Fritos
just to use the toilet. The man selling corndogs
had no teeth. He told me to take a right
at the light, then drive like hell.
Sometimes, talking with you, I want
to sell everything I own.
Across the street, women get their hair
done. A father holds his baby
like a newspaper. It is Sunday again.
Everything is for sale. A statue of Mary.
A winter coat with a fur neck. Christmas bulbs.
Upstate, the leaves are turning.
Someone is building a wall.
Someday it will become a house.
People will love in those rooms
but never tell each other.
What’s the happiest you’ve ever been? you ask.
I look around and I am a tree.
The sky is falling with birds.
The street has turned into a river.
You are thankful your body is a boat.
By July, heat arrives in earnest:
syrup filling the room
where I allow myself one apple a day
and not much else. I am trying
to punish my body for being
a body. With parts that tear and parts
that soften. A thing
that could open for you
then want to keep you inside it.
A small room
that you could want to leave.
Even when your body betrays you
it is still beautiful.
I watch your muscles move
under your shirt now
like watching from the window
of a plane that is taking off.
I love this city
I tell the woman at the bakery,
but crawling back into bed at ten a.m.
I wonder what I meant.
My life in this city:
these same three windows
and me alone inside of them, listening
to the neighborhood bums,
their shopping carts full of bottles.
I’m tired of brick.
I can drive across a bridge now
and feel nothing.
Maybe I don’t care what happened
to us in this city.
What mattered was escape—
the windows rolled down,
yarrow and foxglove lining the highway.
To hear some wild water
laughing through the cedars. To reach
for your hand above cool, dark soil.
To open a map, any map,
and watch your face change.
But all that time, what did we share?
Not even the silences were ours.
I would sit beside yours, the dense fog of it,
and not understand
and in that way we could fill a room.
Driving to the coast
without you, everything
reminds me of you:
highway signs, wind, the sand
sidewinding in lacy tendrils.
I sprain my ankle
running into the waves
then retreat to the dune grass,
and clarity. All the way home,
bright fingers of fireweed
against the dusk.
Which parts of this will I keep, and
for how long? I want to stop
that afternoon in the mountains:
silver firs made skeletal by fire.
Your last real tenderness
in the snow.
In the picture that I look at
again and again,
you are walking away from me
across a long wooden bridge.
the truth is
sometimes he’d talk
to me without looking
at me and i’d think,
i could be anyone right now
he could’ve been anyone
but there he was
his hand always leaving my knee for the gearshift
you can spend all your time thinking
about someone who does not think about you
now that his desire is gone
i have to carry enough for both of us
replay the old images
over and over:
his shower, wild iris, paprika
weren’t we feeling
the same thing?
even just for a minute
i guess crater lake will have to wait
for next summer, a different man
although it’s you i wanted to see
with your face pressed against all that blue
the problem is
you can’t become a stranger to someone again
the first time you saw me i was endless
but then i had a name, and small hands
i laughed too loud in restaurants
and some days it got too hot to move
and some of the gravel roads
just ended in power lines
and then lupine
wilting on the dashboard
and now you’ll never have to see me like this:
burning the garlic
or crying in the car
listening to joni sing wanna make you feel free
i wanna make you feel free