I am not any closer to saying what I mean.

Love has made itself so quiet, a few red fish moving in slow circles.

I want to say like blood, like forgiveness, this obedience, looking at the ground on my knees.

I mean to cease to feel, to cancel, to give up all claim to—

At some point, I rested my hands over my eyes and mouthed, This is my face housed underwater.

This is a love letter.

Every word but mouthed erased.
I knew a girl once
who threw her breakables
at the dorm room wall
and cursed her redhead
lover in a strange tongue,
and all my friends at college
said, hell, she is Greek,
and he Irish, which meant
we understood nothing
of the glasswork that is
a human heart, the way
it glistens like the spit
in the screams of yes
that sexed the night to come.

And yes, it made us
envious, if bemused,
and no less sympathetic
with dread, to hear them
pound their affirmations
all the way in and then,
to spite us, farther in.
Attached at the places
they rubbed raw, they felt
the grip of something
which had as little to do
with each other, and us,
as wind with its sirens,
hammer with its nail.

Last night I dreamed of girls
in chairs at the dark edge
of the dance floor, and their
shyness made me shy,
a stranger in my skin,
and I turned from them
to the apple blossoms
in the window, the street-
walker scent of April
rising. And in the distance,
more lovely still, more
fierce in its skirt of trash:
a great tornado, dark arms
flailing, drawn this way.

So this is how a monk feels
on the mountain path
in a Japanese print,
only the parchment is on
fire. And terror the new
sublimity that scales you
down. The supplicant
becomes one small part
of the scene. The rest
the you that is not you,
just as disaster is not
a dream for the dreamer.
I was a new girl once
I never knew at all.

I sat in my dark chair
as the winds blew our windows
out, like candles, all
at once, and the blouses
shuddered. I see you,
said the wind in the strange
tongue of broken things,
the only tongue it knows.
I came before you
and so continue. And so
I understand nothing
of sacrifice and rage
and wicks that understand nothing
of the flame.

Hard to be sentimental
about a wind and be
the one you are. Why else
do you wake disheveled.
I knew a girl once
whose tirades got me off
and then, well, they got
a little boring. Move,
said the wind, and the hearts
of the wilderness seized,
listening. And then they heard
nothing. Only stillness.
And then they beat a little
faster. And faster still.
Ecobutch from Cornish just made me her favorite,
which is more than I can say of Kitchenslut100
or 101. Ecoslut might be the one
for me, and because of the wonders
of wondering, I can click
on pixels of my affection all
night and see their private
peccadilloes rise beneath my touch.
One likes fisting, another vanilla
ice cream licked from her hair.
Where do people come
from, where do they get
fetishes for tomboys in stilettos?
I don’t know what I like until I’ve seen it
on a pillow 300 days in a row. It’s ok
to wash the pillowcase as long as it spins
in counterintuitive ways—we all have
idiosyncrasies, if not mates. My
notmates are many, and we share
so much: birth month, love for loose-
fitting modifiers, close-ups long
on soft focus. Most employ
the selfie, which shouts how
alone they are, unless you count
vitamin supplements and hair gels
on bathroom counters. Context
matters, and in a finite you-
and-me verse, I need to hurry
and admit I love you and how
does anyone rappel out
of herself into another without grave
risks? You have a habit of tilting
your brain back, with a question.
You have a body with windows
and doors and once you left
the lights on in there, the way
people in Amsterdam in tall, slender
houses on sleepy canals will, without
draperies, a kind of invitation, a way
of saying I have nothing
to hide. I appreciate now how
you take the long way from A
to A, how you believe Z or hyacinths
or maps to crumbled places may
figure into it. I’m trying to articulate
my lack of attraction to people
trying to do things. Would you like
to love me without trying? That’s
an abstract proposition that ought
to come with an airline ticket
and an overhead compartment.
I want to go away with you so we
can come home together, so we can stand
at passport control and have the man
in the glass booth glance from our papers
to the clock on the wall, back to us, and ask,
as the maître d’ once did to my first sweetheart
and me at The Lark Supper Club
outside of Iowa City in 1985: Isn’t
true love wonderful? It is, and after
the man waves us on toward the carousel,
after we claim our suitcases and the beagle
named Rex trained to sniff out
heroin and pears and illicit French
cheeses makes a beeline
for me, unbidden, I’ll unzip
myself, letting all my
light, for anyone in this
dark world to trip over.
In the '90s we were five.  We were pirates
each Halloween & wore our teeth
     black like the blacked-out

windows of the cities we were bombing.  We watched
each night the neon tracers blaze
            the sky of our televisions, listened

to Peter Jennings, who was Canadian,
explain it—how Baghdad
            was a real city somewhere though it sounded

like a sackful of fathers.  How the mosques
wailed for days.  We didn't know,
            in the '90s, we were poor.  We played

with army men in the desert
of our dingy living room floor, with Legos
            on the ocean of our bedrooms.  We moved

twice in the '90s.  We liked Mike.  We liked
90210 & soaps.  We didn't know
     what sex was in the '90s

then we knew.  We named
an 80-acre mall for our country.  The cops
     clubbed Rodney King on camera

in the '90s, we saw it.  We watched
all night in the '90s the night
     Diana died.  We cried.  We cried
many times in the '90s.  In the '90s
we turned 15.  In the '90s
     we wore JNCO jeans & believed

in aliens & the Hale-Bopp comet.  We got
our first erections in the '90s & knew then
     to stand several inches from Leah Dwire
while “All My Life” played slowly
in the morbid cafetorium.  We combined
     words in the '90s & this saved us
a few dollars.  In the '90s
we invented the internet.  We spent
     hours while the modem groaned
its horrible foreign language like the world
was about to end.  The world
    was always about to end
in the '90s.  One night—
this was the '90s—we dressed in all black.  We packed
     our bags with toilet paper & draped
the Hass sisters' sycamores
in white.  & every one of us,
     that night, watched the ribbons
lifted into the darkness, & the sky
of the '90s—it took what we gave it & waving
     above us its hundred
white flags flung
back, in the '90s, its salvo
     of used-up tubes.
Near the entrance, a patch of tall grass.
Near the tall grass, long-stemmed plants;

each bending an ear-shaped cone
to the pond's surface. If you looked closely,

you could make out silvery koi
swishing toward the clouded pond's edge

where a boy tugs at his mother's shirt for a quarter.
To buy fish feed. And watching that boy,

as he knelt down to let the koi kiss his palms,
I missed what it was to be so dumb

as those koi. I like to think they're pure,
that that's why even after the boy's palms were empty,

after he had nothing else to give, they still kissed
his hands. Because who hasn't done that—

loved so intently even after everything
has gone? Loved something that has washed

its hands of you? I like to think I'm different now,
that I'm enlightened somehow,
but who am I kidding? I know I’m like those koi,
still, with their popping mouths, that would kiss
those hands again if given the chance. So dumb.
Because he likes cats,
he doesn't realize how like a dog

he pets her—with the patience
bordering on impatience

one allots a too affectionate dog;
petting and worrying

she might do something distasteful
or inappropriate—lick his legs, drool,

or show an unwelcome interest
in his crotch, when all he wants

is to leave with his conscience clear:
she wants affection; he grants it.

She, like any dog, knows the rules
of this game: gratitude
for any stick thrown,
however feebly.
What’s the place that knows?

I traced inside the heart-

beat but ended in the

brain pan:  penciled

moths were swarming

open, laboring

the snow
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