In the dark
sound moves
like a murmuration
of starlings, or dust
spiraling far enough
away to wonder if it’s
a person, the thin,
spinning column
until it collapses
and you know
nothing was there
but sand reaching up.
You imagined it.
Kevin swaying inside
that sound, and joni too,


If the hummingbirds hover, they trouble
all together, the coots in a clover
and the chickens in a peep, but watch for the gaggle
those geese are in a skein
See the plovers in a leash
or herons in a siege,
or the mustering of storks, because the ravens conspire,
the pheasants a bouquet,
the swans are ballet, and the quail are in a bevy,
the quail are in a covey, the flamingos a flamboyance,
the doves a piteousness
Brace for that grouse, exalt for those larks,
the rafters of turkeys
and ostentations of peacocks


Momma called it the Movie Star Barn because a man came once
and asked to film there. He never did, but Grandad painted it bright red
and the doorframes stark white every year after until he died. Then the paint
peeled into parchments Brenda and I wore like curly-cues in our hair. After
a while, it didn’t peel at all. The air was a thick grey in there, I could feel
the grainy dark on my face and fingers for hours after I was out. The light
streaks followed their own logic, something different than the sun.

Next door was the chicken coop my Granny went to every morning
more early than I could try to help her. I’ve always been a late riser, like
the moths, my Granny said. The chickens pecked and ran and made
me feel like I was Moses when I walked in. Sometimes they let me watch
them lay. Brenda put her hands beneath them and pulled out eggs, but I
was too afraid for that. They plucked each other’s feathers and still sat
next to each other in the roost. That was love, I thought. Still do.


Sycamores are their own regime. Please startle
the starlight. Crawl into the murmuring of swallows.
Please wake Judith and her knife. What is lost
but palm trees and grief. What is lost but
the living.


What can glow if you do not? The lungs are mostly water
and easily drowned. In the desert I breathe thin air and cough
sand in my sleep. I have more cousins bit by bats than scorpions.

Our balance is unsteady inside walls and we lean on the cave
for safety. The shot for rabies is thick as milk in the muscle.
The scorpions are mostly seen, except my brother stung

while talking to a girl and lifting a dish rag. He said he was going
to wash. His arm numb for weeks. The body vibrates its own
frequency. I hear skin purr when it’s happy. How do I

prepare for the monster? How do I know when it’s come?


My body practices each month to hold
and let go. The habit of opening
and pain caused by something
leaving. But my husband has the character
for carrying. I love too much and not
enough. Attach and leave. My mother
fluctuated. Her pride in the loving. My pride
in the abandon. Always forgetting
a person is re-being every time
you look and look away.


Recipe For—

How many spiders can you fit on a pin? The tsunami
took the angels out ages ago and now we have them,
wasps, coquis and us. There are two spots of light, bright
spiders, smaller than dust on the tomato plant grown
from seed, each red fruit bottom-rot, no matter
how I water it. Now there are four, no five, they rise
on the wave of a breeze, their webs new and quivering.
They cross and lift, flying the invisible line of themselves.
How are there enough insects to share? The wasps hump
our dinner meat like it’s the best lay of their life. The coquis
scream at night in their densely populated cities: yelling
for pleasure or loneliness, not understanding that the space
is shared. But the spiders are everywhere, in every space
until we, the humans, covered in bright welts die off,
and everything else survives.


Being a girl is easy. First, you must rarely speak
and when you do, it must be hurried

so you don’t take up too much time. You must be slender
and reach out to those skinnier to prove you didn’t do it

on purpose. You must never say that spiders
crawl out your mouth and across the walls when you pray.

You must never say your body plays dress-up in skin
but it is actually water tension around constellations

of darkness. You must never say your bones are cactus
skeletons full of small snakes and that is why it rattles.

You must say you stay small because you don’t deserve the space.
People know how to respond to that. They say you do.

You do deserve it. You do. Because when you no longer look
like a stick about to break no one asks anymore. Take it from

experience. Because now I say you do, you do deserve
the space, you really do. Because being a girl is easy.


You Say the Heart is a Muscle

But I say it’s an eggplant, ready to soak up whatever
flavor you put it in, adding a chewiness necessary
for a good vegetarian dish. You say the heart is a jackfruit
difficult to prepare, but a delight if you get it right. I say
the heart is a spider bite that turns into a pus bubble
you have to scratch so it becomes a scab and the itching
stops. You say no, the heart is a chile ready for roasting
so the skin slips off and the meat is left to add a healthy
spiciness. I say the heart is a cigarette, a pleasure to inhale
but leaves a burn in the chest. You say the heart is a muscle
it’s made to recycle everything you touch because the blood
is right there, just below the surface.


My legs must just be dry, I thought, and I went to the spa where a woman in black
panties and bra scrubbed until the skin rolled off like old pieces of erasure.

But the more time I spent in the pools and feet up in the steam room (I snuck
in every time a friend fell asleep somewhere, the pull like a volley or pendulum)

the roughness came back. I started sleeping in the bathtub, and when it got
cold, I pretended I was too drunk to notice but really, I loved it. My husband

lifted me up and asked me not to drink so much, but the sheets, well everything
really, felt like large-grain sandpaper, every object about to break through.

I showered so much the grout came up and the floor caved in. Before it all leaked
beneath the door, our small bathroom was the lake I’ve always wanted. My legs

had turned so scaly I couldn’t walk, not dignified anyway, and now that the bathroom
was broken, we went to the beach, and my husband had to carry me. He’s a saint

or kinda like one, and he watched as I swam away. I used to try and visit him
but he’s so afraid of sharks he wouldn’t come into the water, and you can’t maintain

a relationship with someone who is always on shore. You have to get rid of all that
negative energy, you know? Spend a little time on yourself.

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