Outside, the yard guys shave off the oldest of the lawn’s growth.
Inside a vase on the mantle, soft plinks I couldn’t quite place for an hour
till I peeked: a dying bug’s last attempts to flip itself right side up.
The cats already have fleas. It’s only May. The sun seems resolute
in the same way teenagers are, sure it will live forever. As far
as we’re concerned, it may as well. It gets hotter day by day.
With one finger we pull down Earth’s sunglasses to get a better
look, then strip them off entirely, dazzled by the blaze. Youth!
Beauty! The air crackles with fecundity, bees bumbling out of roses
like horny frat guys buzzed on a never-ending stream of Natural Light.
As for me, I threw away my face creams and serums. My surface dries
and cracks. I thirst for milk and honey. The peonies in their water glass
bloomed for two weeks till they rotted, fell to pieces, some buds
blossoming meanwhile, but the last two tight balls stayed stubbornly
shut, keeping their sweetness for themselves. I don’t blame them.
At night, we nestle close something like that. We draw up through tangled limbs
what’s left to drink from deep in the cool of our sheets. We sleep in this reprieve.
Kudzu clutches the sheer bank near the dam,
roots that cling, crowns of rhizome
underneath its close canopy, which lie
dormant, even when displaced, dislocated.
Kudzu finds new purchase in any soil.
It must be burned to nothing, in order to die.
Kudzu covers the South, making vague
the true contours of its topography.
Kudzu becomes the surface, waving
faintly in the breeze from the highway:
its stolons snake ceaselessly, tendrils twine,
feeling night by night for the soft shoulder.
Kudzu came from somewhere else,
just as everything once did – serving first
to keep the earth from washing away.
Now we can’t make it leave: it climbs,
annexing foot by foot: silent, tireless émigré.
The fault that lies between what is and what could be:
a bone-deep gulch that makes me swallow hard
because I feel this gap is best ascribed to me.
The things I didn’t do, remarks misheard.
And even though the driver of the other car
turned blithe and trusting across traffic like a fool,
I still think it’s my own misstep. For if I’d waited half an hour,
pulled into some store to feel the AC’s cool?
Only that self would be above reproach, critique.
I’m sorry I didn’t know the light would turn.
I should have known you’d turn me to a meek
absorber of your blows and scalds and scorn
because in truth, it’s no more than I’ve long suspected:
there’s no me that should not be in some way corrected.
Marriage is a mist that unfolds in the rear-view mirror.
A slim pokerfaced goddess of some kind or other.
A camera’s lens, smeared by a single greasy finger.
Today I discovered my fingertips’ buzz and shock
were because of a kink in my faraway shoulder.
And now I am missing digits. I am listening.
Happy as the whole car on fire in February,
the beauty of the hardest parts. No wonder the moon’s
so yellow tonight I could walk through it into tomorrow.
I am a cautious person, I said to the sublime,
just before it burst into birdsong. Here’s my review
of kindness: Try it, though it won’t fit snug enough at first.
All of us who taught me this: a jar of cream shaken
will become a golden little lump of butter, surrounded by itself.
My sister was a mess of wounds I didn’t want to heal.
The word came next, written in the falling off behind them,
in the night, driving, as I scrambled frantically towards
next year – when in fact we may never even louder. And then,
and then: a loose poem fell into my bane.
We’d be strange parents.
It’s so terribly late to start.
We’d hover, frightened but
maybe laissez-faire in other
arbitrary ways, the way we start,
finding the cat’s water bowl has
floated a dead cricket for days.
He might have a face that
would make a stranger avert
her eyes, afraid it might befall
her, too. But we’d love him more
than life. We’d coo and fuss. We’d fix
a drink after he’d gone to bed, and hold
our worries about him between us
the way we brood now on the house
we haven’t bought yet, the cats’ ages,
the trip we aren’t sure we can afford,
our own bodies’ slump into entropy.
We’d nurse him like we’ve learned
to do ourselves, be as kind as
we could manage, and only as stern
as we had to be. We’d raise him.
We won’t raise him. Instead we sit
bleary at the breakfast table with
our cloudy coffee, divining how best
to rear the confused children who live
inside us, the ones from the fairy tale
whose parents left them in a forest
without any crumbs to guide them home.