We both grip the fountain's
damp lip, lose our knuckle tips
just beneath the water's surface,
our cheeks lift into simultaneous
hello smiles, while the ivy spreads
like fresh disease in the corner's shadow.
We've come here to talk about us.
Had I known freedom
could matter so much,
I would have loosed the ivy’s vines
from the cold stone hold
of that mildewing, chipped, brick
wall then; would have plucked
each leaf off above their stems,
let the vines sprawl naked
in the dirt like earth's veins.
I'd had enough of watching
the slightest changes ripple
our reflections unrecognizable.
You'd grown tired of the shade
shifting, had enough of trying.
Still, we walked out together,
our wind rustling the evergreen ivy
that, unlike us, would lose nothing
for clinging, climbing, desperate,
struggling to rise
toward an unreachable sun.
Your first mistake is believing
every aerial photo of anywhere
shows the roll of sagebrush
over the singed desert valley--
symptoms of a slow-setting sun.
Eyes that never leave a mother’s
windows believe they’ve found home
in the first cluster of roofs in a cul-de-sac,
believe they know each troubling pass—
how steep, how thin, how rocky,
where the road has no railing,
the exact spot where you learned to yield.
Rust scars surviving colors
in Seattle’s skyline, spreads as scabs
across red scrap metal, rots in speckles
over yellowing fences, blossoms
like bruises on a blue shed
in a backyard where he pummels
a cement patio to dust as a hobby.
Her face in the window reflects
wet ruin, counts each punished stone.
Symptoms of a Slow Setting Sun
Think sagebrush rolling, no high-pitched
oo wee oo wee oooo, no gray western flick,
real tumbleweed passes through high beams
on two lane roads, sticks in your wheel sockets.
This town cut in on the desert’s dance
with forest-shawled mountains, left her laying sun-licked,
brush ablaze, bulldozed for paved roads, intersected.
Suffer a sleight of hand, a misplaced moment
of reflection and nearby cliffs will kill you.
Here, the sun is a woman’s full breast,
tickled by tip-tops of evergreens,
this is her blushing sky. She’s the light that saves
or maims you, depending on how bent she is to shine.
No one has touched me for weeks
yet in this drugged, gilt afternoon, late,
when nothing is safe, I’m paralyzed,
as though so wildly desired
-from “Midas Passional” by Lisa Russ-Spaar .