Hour Twelve

What Dreams May Come

Lay me down by North Creek

where it moves stately as a wedding march

light as a jig.

 

Us, under the bridge, you said

“If we stay here any longer, I’m going to kiss you”

and I blushed and froze.

 

The tall grasses hide nutria (false beaver)

and real beaver too, and we got

such a laugh from that.

 

Under the bridge, you said you loved me

and were shocked I didn’t run

but said it back instead.

 

I lay in the dappling light, out of view

dream your arms around me

and sigh with the reeds and branches.

Hour Eleven

Perennial Wallflower

 

In summer you

agreed to teach me to waltz.

Then winter crept up

 

and you flew away

with the geese. Now my feet are

frozen to the earth.

Hour Ten

J 3

 

Gold in the puddles on the ground

and in the sunlight crashing down

around your face and in my eyes

blinding in the golden skies

when I looked up and you said

 

“I’ll make an honest woman of you.”

 

I should have stopped there

clutched my heart

and keeled over dead.

 

Now I know, now I know

it will not get better than that

one bright moment

one second in the sun

one pulse of light

was all I had.

Hour Nine

Goodnight Spider

October is the Month of the Spider

those eight-legged hunters, pregnant and fat

hang low, with wide-cast webs

to catch the most unwary meals

for ravenous mothers-to-be.

 

She hangs from her net, lazy and gravid

letting it do the work for her,

for she knows that her work is almost done.

October is the Month of Life and Death;

she was not built for cold, and as she spins her sac

she ebbs, fails, and falls into the brown crackling leaves

among the shells of her prey.

Hour Eight

The Last Moments of Heaven

 

If I had known this would happen, and

if I could have guessed (though how could I) what

my gentleness would bring, I would have been rough

and insistent, but not wanting to scare you, I caged the beast

and honeyed my tongue, thinking that Fate, in its

evenness, had finally run out of torments, and now the hour

had arrived that it may mete out joy, that you would come.

 

As I walked home the sun was setting in all its colors, round

dinner time, and though I had a deep foreboding, I nonetheless smiled at

the thought you may be waiting for me, that the last

few days silence had been remnants of an old life, sullen as it slouches

into oblivion. I quickened my pace, almost singing as I skipped towards

my home, hoping for joyous news, my own Star of Bethlehem

shining in the parking-lot; you casually (with flowers?) waiting there to

answer in person, and I ignored the pangs of foreknowing what would be

awaiting me upon my arrival, what disastrous new chapter was about to be born.

 

Golden Shovel poem, borrowing the lines “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” from W. B. Yeats’ Second Coming.

Hour Seven

An Explanation

 

It should come as no surprise to anyone

that day should end and night should come,

as winter follows fall, and the fields turn black

or white, as the season freezes the earth.

 

Even the stars must burn out and die,

snuffed like cinders in the lampblack sky.

 

From starstuff we arise, and to the sky

we rise again, even as we are buried,

like seeds, in hopes of a resurrection

or burned, hearkening to our astral origin.

 

Even the earth falls back to the sun,

and the sun rises and falls into itself, a stillquiet corpse.

 

It should come as no surprise to anyone

that a stargazer should feel no fear

ascending as she descends

stillquiet and singing.

Hour Six

J 2

 

If you were here

turn around three times and wish

A hundred ways I’d let you know:

I would make your favorite dinner

and watch your favorite show

If you were here

 

If you were here

put the penny in my pocket and wish

I would strip you down and take you

stand you up, unmake you

I would cry out your name and slake you

to hear you cry out mine

if you were here

 

If you were here

blow out the candle and wish

I would hold you close and let you sleep

in my arms, while I keep

the vigil for your monsters

dispatch your demons and tormentors

and never let you fear

I would fight all my days and nights for you

Keep on all the lights for you

If only you were here, my love

If only you were here.

Hour Five

Brother Stephen

 

I loved the boy who tore down my treehouse,

so I didn’t tell him to stop. I just climbed down

and let the destruction happen because

he was drunk, and I was a fatalist

and believed then, as I do now

that all good things must come to an end.

 

It wasn’t my treehouse. It belonged to the town.

It belonged to the spirit of every teenager

who ever needed a place in an uncut swathe of forest

on unparceled land, to sit and stare quietly

or hide from the crowd in greenleaf peace

or let the crowd hide them.

 

Before, when days turned early to cold and dark

we found an old fender buried in the ferns

used it as a hearth, gathered sticks and paper,

and built a fire in the treehouse.

Floating faces in the glowing light, sparks flying to heaven

and there was the Boy I Loved laughing

when I griped about how my folks spent my college money.

Yeah, it was kind of funny.

 

He’s not the one I miss. Looking back

on that crowd around the fire, I see my Brother

from Another Mother, My Best Friend’s Boyfriend, he was the one

who helped me out of the tree as the Boy I Loved ripped it down around me.

He held out his hand, again and again, when love got drunk

and ripped the world down around me.

 

Last time I saw him , he was in a nest of wires

and bottles and tubes and machines that go “ping!”

Cancer slowed him down long enough for me to catch up to him.

Surprise, A Boy I Loved had just wrecked my world, but I held out my hand this time

asking him please, take it, lean on me, while it all falls down.

So far, he has not taken it.

 

I was hoping, so hoping, like Hansel and Gretel,

We could find our way out of these woods together.

Hour Four

J

 

I love a man who walks away

I love a man who loves me

I love a man who laughs sunlight and candy

I love a man who shines.

 

He is tall and he is handsome

as a river is handsome, as a hearth is handsome

beautiful in its nature, and also

in the comfort it gives.

Dark and good-looking, but his beauty

is on his skin and under, warmth of a fire

radiating love and loving-kindness

I love a man who shines.

 

He knows how to keep them laughing.

He knows how to make me smile

when all the world is crashing and

I forget there’s light to be had;

he cavorts, he clowns, he teases

he holds and strokes with sweetness and jokes

until we are both giggling helplessly in each others’ arms

I love a man who laughs sunlight and candy.

 

I see it in his eyes, his face his smile

in the gifts he gives me, not because he gives them

but in the way he gives them; he wants everything to count.

I feel it in the way that he holds me, soft and desperate

Hard and soulful, he touches my hands

He takes me, takes me down

Like an animal, like a man, like a penitent god

I love a man who loves me.

 

He is a sunset

bright and warm and lovely

shining hottest in the last colors of the day.

I want to sit and bask in the heat

and brilliance, and hear the crows cry as they circle

just a moment longer, another few seconds please

but there’s just no use; the sun always sets

And I love a man who walks away.

Hour Three

Black Highway at Night

 

Black highway at night and I

am I

I am the driver

 

Black highway at night and the signs flash past

one potato two potato three potato four

mile upon mile, star upon star.

 

I am the driver

 

Black highway at night and I am staying awake

heavy eyelids, dropping chin, counting the signs

tires roll across the night sky, star upon star.

 

One potato two potato three potato four

 

Black highway at night, god knows how far

from this place to that place, all the signs

are too dark to read.

 

Who is the car?

 

Black highway at night, I am driving the car

from this place to that place, where all the signs point

too dark to read, star upon star

 

One estrella two estrella three estrella four

 

Black highway at night, star upon star

mile upon mile, god knows how far

before I’m too weary to keep driving the car.

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