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Read my interview with The New Orleans Review here

WALKING BY MYSELF

Walking by myself
through cities I think
of knives, the symbol
of marriages and doom.

Or I recall the lucky spoons
my auntie loved and hung
on a rack by the table.

She did not love her knives.
They lay in a drawer.
My auntie ripped her bread

by hand. She said a knife
is almost useless,
being one thing only.

 

TIME IS MOVING

Time is moving at the pace
a girl can read by candlelight:

And when she mouths the words, running
her finger under the words as she speaks them,

tadpoles burst into frogs, a liver regenerates,
flesh rises off the body as a fleck of dust. 

She never stops, except when her eyes get tired,
and that's when we notice the silence.


MY FATHER SLAMMED

My father slammed his break to meet a hairpin
curve, and sent us gliding on the ice, and out

of God's care. The Buick carried me
and my mother in her giant fur, my sleeping sister,

my father in his suit and overcoat, his stiffened,
dry-cleaned shoulder. Someone on the radio

began to sing! Death-of-self, a song I'm still
in love with, singing, you are that satisfying gasp of breath.



COULD THIS BE SATAN

Could this be Satan,
whose drop from heaven
made this hole?
I thought to myself.
It was a tiny child,
hanging by four straps,
like a heart suspended
on its branches.

That baby's just a memory:
My mother had left me
to swing in the shade.



HOW MANY SPARROWS

How many sparrows am I worth?

A sparrow of the kingdom
Animalia, of the Aves class, 

foraging for seed and maggots
somewhere in the sweating reeds along the Nile.

I held a sparrow once.
I saw no difference from a finch; the stout,

unending chest; the supercilium in bold; the curtness
of its beak and brains.

Light who clothes me,
I ask you.

 

BETWEEN THE TENEMENTS

Between the tenements the flowery house dresses
and giant panties flutter.

The place is narrow—
two arm lengths, best—

where lines are fashioned across this alley,
twenty stories high.

Today the wind is light and spring has come.
You passing cars in traffic

only get a glimpse: a pair of hands
hand cake into another pair of hands and touch

each other lavishly. 



AGAINST THE OLD-FASHIONED

Against the old-fashioned mesh of the radio
the barber pressed his good ear.

He held a small, white cloth for covering
the face. The cloth was hot.  Steam rising from it.

In and out the static hissed like someone shush-
ing children. But his heart in his ear,

which no one else could hear, broadcasted sounds
that boots make through the snow.



WE STRIPPED

We stripped
and swam out
to the Green Island.

It was earliest summer.
There is such a thing
as Midnight Sun.

Asa let me touch her
from behind, her body
so much older than mine.

Under water she yelled
something--what?
I don't remember.

What we call sorrow
is merely failing memory.