Flour on the floor makes my sandals
slip and I tumble into your arms.
Too hot to bake this morning but
blueberries begged me to fold them
into moist muffins. Sticks of rhubarb
plotted a whole pie. The windows
are blown open and a thickfruit tang
sneaks through the wire screen
and into the home of the scowly lady
who lives next door. Yesterday, a man
in the city was rescued from his apartment
which was filled with a thousand rats.
Something about being angry because
his pet python refused to eat. He let the bloom
of fur rise, rise over the little gnarly blue rug,
over the coffee table, the kitchen countertops
and pip through each cabinet, snip
at the stumpy bags of sugar,
the cylinders of salt. Our kitchen is a riot
of pots, wooden spoons, melted butter.
So be it. Maybe all this baking will quiet
the angry voices next door, if only
for a brief whiff. I want our summers
to always be like this—a kitchen wrecked
with love, a table overflowing with baked goods
warming the already warm air. After all the pots
are stacked, the goodies cooled, and all the counters
wiped clean—let us never be rescued from this mess.
When it comes to clothes, make
an allowance for the unexpected.
Be sure the spare in the trunk
of your station wagon with wood paneling
isn’t in need of repair. A simple jean jacket
says Hey, if you aren’t trying to smuggle
rare Incan coins through this peaceful
little town and kidnap the local orphan,
I can be one heck of a mellow kinda guy.
But no matter how angry a man gets, a smile
and a soft stroke on his bicep can work
wonders. I learned that male chests
also have nipples, warm and established—
green doesn’t always mean envy.
It’s the meadows full of clover
and chicory the Hulk seeks for rest, a return
to normal. And sometimes, a woman
gets to go with him, her tiny hands
correcting his rumpled hair, the cuts
in his hand. Green is the space between
water and sun, cover for a quiet man,
each rib shuttling drops of liquid light.
after Dorothea Grossman
It was your idea to teach me how to sleep
under the stars how to hold a gun how
to shoot it in the air and firework it
across the setting sun a silver dragonfly
with a singular purpose: to hunt
and snap its mouth around the sweetest bee—
pluck it right out of the air—
I didn’t know love could be so loud.
And once, the fields of soybean and mice
became a kind of prayer,
shushing tassels on the blown-back
calico curtains of your childhood bedroom
where you kissed me my shoulders
before the window— I never saw the ribs
of a silver silo that way again.
If by real you mean as real as a shark tooth stuck
in your heel, the wetness of a finished lollipop stick,
the surprise of a thumbtack in your purse—
then Yes, every last page is true, every nuance,
bit, and bite. Wait. I have made them up—all of them—
and when I say I am married, it means I married
all of them, a whole neighborhood of past loves.
Can you imagine the number of bouquets, how many
slices of cake? Even now, my husbands plan a great meal
for us—one chops up some parsley, one stirs a bubbling pot
on the stove. One changes the baby, and one sleeps
in a fat chair. One flips through the newspaper, another
whistles while he shaves in the shower, and every single
one of them wonders what time I am coming home.
Give me a church
made entirely of salt.
Let the walls hiss
and smoke when
I return to shore.
I ask for the grace
of a new freckle
on my cheek, the lift
of blue and my mother’s
soapy skin to greet me.
Hide me in a room
with no windows.
Never let me see
the dolphins leaping
for this water-prayer
rising like a host
of sky lanterns into
the inky evening.
Let them hang
in the sky until
they vanish at the edge
of the constellations —
the heroes and animals
too busy and bright to notice.