With the tides

The sea is high again
today, with a thrilling flush
of wind that circles us
like the willows that weep
around the lines we draw
in the dirt.
She wears
her wrinkles when she smiles
to remind me the world
circles heavenly bodies
in its own time.

The tide
goes low if we wait long enough
& still the stars circle her
hair dancing on the air
so we wade deeper tomorrow.

She swims

She swims in the air, afloat
but not adrift, aloft but
not aloof. She moves
with purpose, as if her lungs inflate
from helium only she knows
is there.

She swims & swims

swims among the oceans
of clouds whose undertow
pulls west where she can find
her fortune

swims but never loses
her way as I hang from a constellation
growing larger with each stroke.

Life is a neighborhood

where trees stand on the edge of memories
& guard property lines

where adults provide more shade
under well-worn baseball caps

where each day starts with yes
even if the sun hasn’t stumbled
into view yet

where the smell of mowed grass cuts faraway
scenes to its perfect height

where nearly everything that has happened
is in the past

or tucked neatly beneath the surface
under a wide-brimmed hat

where the shade is alive & she whispers
because the lights are on.

In the window

I’ve always had thrift store mannequin
fashion sense though I display
a bit more modesty. I’ve kept things
hidden under designs of all sorts of noises
for so long, a turtle making plans
in the dark.

She has me peaking
out of my shell, sticking my neck farther
to where the air tastes new like
simple syrup in the sun. The patterns
shine in the light, or maybe
that’s just me.

Still the mannequin
changes clothes in the window & she
keeps urging me on.

From the bridge

Sometimes I think about the ocean —
sour water that whispers honey
to coasts spread too thin. What mysteries
swim below the surface,
below sea level, below even the light?

We prefer to stay dry, to permit the water
into narrower gaps
magnifying the depths until we see
ourselves colored in light even
from this height. In the distance

I see clouds slide down the sky
like white petals to reveal their own
vibrant secrets in wispy voices
that splash in the ocean & submerge
without another thought.

Sometimes I wonder what the ocean thinks
about me — drawing breath
like arrows from a quiver but never falling
off this bridge as we cross into
all the sun will allow.

Almost

I was shocked this afternoon to learn
it was still Thursday & not because
my best days are behind me

This day is forever almost — not exactly
halfway, not the weekend, it begs
for a feeling but rarely provokes warmth

Still, the sun sets like any other day
until it rests somewhere below the horizon
& night almost arrives too early

That light switch always gives
a little jolt in this dry air but there’s so much
left to see & I can risk the shock

Now it’s almost tomorrow & I almost see
her face developing in the dark, saying
my best days are ahead of me.

Pair of hands

Balloons swallow the afternoon
air floating beyond my reach to overcome
their fear of flying. The soft balance
of curves straddle shadows with memories
of beach umbrellas shielding peach skin.

We like each other’s company so
we stack rocks like a snowman though
I’m not sure how they do it
with stick hands. I like the shape of things
we build together with our hands.

Checkerboard

Bitten by the slender twilight
I’m reminded winter howls
at my bones more each year,
the breeze reminding me February

marches between itinerant
daydreams. I want to taste life, catch it
in my hands & wash away
the dirt until the sky rhymes

with the ground. The earth meets
in the middle & she sees
the moonlight like a checkerboard,
colors jumping to be together.

The lioness in the living room

I watch her saunter through the room
because there’s nothing on tv
& anyway the flickering light
from the sun bounces off her cheeks
like a spotlight directing my attention
to curtains before static-clung scenery.

She moves in solid waves of hope,
weaving through well-worn furniture
with the confidence of a lioness tip-toeing
through stalks of grass, though she’d never
let grass stains set on the sofa.

On sun-soaked afternoons like this I return
from a long walk — the breeze
almost too cool, reminding me
February is not of one mind
though it’s more hopeful
than some. I sit & think about the spark that hangs
like a moonbeam near her ear as the tv
dissolves to static & she closes
the curtains — her prey frozen
in the dark.

One dozen (or two)

She absorbs the food
in her bowl, not chewing
but vacuuming the thing
clean. And why not? She doesn’t know
clocks — doesn’t know
there will be another meal
in 12 hours, or what 12 hours is,
or what 12 is, only that the wait
feels like an elephant
sitting on her chest & just breathing
is swallowing mud in a storm.

One twelve makes a year
two twelves a day & a dozen eggs
last a week. Clocks mark the time
but never tell the story. Mine
didn’t start with you but
hands spin us together so all that turns
are pages of our book, the clockface
breathing easy as the chapters
swallow us whole.

Thunder tonight

I woke up asleep on the couch, the pins in my hand
needling me to move

& though the night insists on darkening our days
like a blanket tossed

over the lampshade to dull the intensity, still
she shines. This night

should know that thunder waits smiling
beneath her skin

pounding through pores in sweet moments
that bounce like static

which makes the air smells sharp & the days
are never dull.

Still starlight

The fragrance of stars can jump
through a window
with a gust of snow like a comet’s tail

I ask her to keep the curtains shut
if the neighbors are home

She says the house is haunted
when she gets to the end of a book

I open a window to let the ghosts out
but she says
they’re good houseguests & never leave
a mess

She doesn’t wear perfume & the night
smells of stardust

Tonight the universe fits inside this room
starlight sneaks in

A new song

A song I didn’t recognize came on the speaker
a melody that circled me
twirling me
with notes of cinnamon in her hair
& I noticed the sun going around with me

For too long I had spun widdershins
through life bouncing over rough waters
without rhythm
like a young sailor navigating in the dark

But I’m an old sailor now
& this new tune steers me
with measured beats
that make the way lighter

There are many hours

I dreamt last night I was in
a ribbon-stitched competition
& though its details are lost
to the murky meanderings
of sleep, the image of her cheering
the loudest in the crowd
stayed with me
through the morning.

I’m tempted by stubborn clocks
that tick on lemon-kissed walls
to believe the world changes
in the sunlight, but no matter the hour
I hear her over the noise
enthusiastically
calling me home.

Unexpected jolts

That light switch always gives
a little shock
when I touch it in this dry January air
& still every time
it surprises me like a goldfish
circling the same water, losing its place
without a thought.

She sends a similar spark that lifts me
into the air
with that smile that could never
ground me
& I’m jolted into jagged lines
of unexpected experiences once again lost
without a worry.

A walk

We approach the future as we do
this deep fog: hopeful but still
watching for shit between steps
in the still sleeping field You suggest
we walk towards the sun but I plan
on a long journey & don’t want to walk
in circles Instead we hold the light
dear as it clears the mist ahead
The field melts into a path of thistle-
kissed sun-dipped clarity
so we skip clean-shoed through the day.

The jacket in the back

I lost myself in discovery,
crashing into
the crushing essence of a
back-of-the-closet suit
I haven’t worn
since the funeral. I’ve practiced
the craft of nodding
small talk since, though
it fits as well as
that old jacket. Some things
I have no trouble throwing
out, while others cling
like a dryer sheet
waiting to tumble from a shift sleeve.
The program from
the memorial is still
in the inside breast pocket & I’m still
a pall bearer struggling
to carry the load while
the powder blue jacket hides in the back
but not forgotten.