Always a Love Poem (Valentines 2021)
La Garza (The Crane)
She folds the first love letter he sent into an origami crane
and sets it afloat. She watches all the pretty words float downstream, words like: ‘rare’ and ‘beautiful,’ silly words really, except
all clichés are welcome in love poetry not for publication.
She keeps the last love letter locked away, reads it when she wants to unleash what’s laired, feel the trample of hooves stampede her need into parchment.
She folds herself back in the shape of a woman, this time with wings.
She flies. Does not look back.
Isolation Love Poem with an Elevator
to talk to violets.
Tears fall into my soup
and I drink them.”
– Mary Ruefle, “I Cannot Be Quiet an Hour,”
Behind one of the doors in your hallway,
a woman is weeping. You’re waiting for
the elevator, listening, unable to tell what
apartment she’s in, but when the elevator
comes, there’s someone in it, the doors
opening as if on an unexpected portrait,
and you step back from the masked face
and let it go again, hear it descending
to the ground floor without you.
When you get downstairs you’ll either go
out the south exit, passing the mailroom,
where you’ll sit on a railing near flowers
and watch empty buses sail like barges up
and down Sheridan Road. Or you’ll choose
the north exit that opens on a row of dumpsters
and the garage, a narrow lane leading to an alley.
You’re glad it’s only you in your apartment,
eating your own unremarkable cooking and
drinking too much, but it’s not that simple.
Outside you’ll find more flowers have
blossomed, a single red tulip, white hydrangeas,
but you don’t know that yet because you never
pushed the elevator button again after letting
the first one go, and it’s still just you in the hallway
and the woman crying behind her door.
But as long as you stand here, nothing changes.
It doesn’t get better, but it doesn’t get worse, either.
The Sonnet is Always a Love Poem
Driving a silver car from the last millennium
to the high school to pick up my daughter,
I was thinking about a friend who’d traveled
to Switzerland with his father. I don’t know
if the two went to Geneva by the blue lake
or to a pristine mountain clinic in the Alps,
but the purpose of the son’s trip was to ease
his demented father’s assisted suicide. And,
to make the narrative even more unnerving,
his stepmother now refused to live without
her husband. She had appealed to the son
to sign the legal forms so she, too, could die….
but then I turned into the school parking lot—kids
walking everywhere, singly and in pairs. I had to stay alert.
Essay on Memory
Most of our past has been forgotten — despite the pyramids and Anne Frank’s diary. Already Tuesday has all but disappeared. Sure, we remember the traumas and the unexpected sex, but almost everything else floats away like the weather inside this window. What’s worse, in those rare circumstances, when you and I recall the same moment, they are as different as “shack” and “chalet.” You bring up the bugs and humidity, the scratches across your back. I recount how the bare branch held your bra until we were ready to leave.