This is the Last Time I Will Ever See You
and everything smells like patchouli.
Someone is playing a twelve-string guitar
and none of us are dancing, though I wish I was.
You’ve already gotten into the trouble.
Our Spanish teacher has seen you sneak
off to meet your secret boyfriend in the plaza.
You’ve already bought me the giraffe mug, a gift
to celebrate our graduation. Hooria, it’s still in my .....cupboard.
When you told me you’d been caught, I laughed it off.
Looking across to Morocco, you didn’t laugh at all.
The air was hot and dry, even in the dark. You’d known .....deserts before.
All year, I’d mailed packages for you, love notes to the .....UK.
As soon as we were home, you were gone.
Or maybe you are always here, your hair a dark spiral, .....your eyes lined in kohl.
Maybe we are always here, spinning to a song we will .....never hear again.
Now, I can’t fathom a New York before roads.
When I read the Wappinger tribes lived
east of the Hudson to the Taconic Mountains
I see the highway, train tracks
the mall where I bought my first earrings.
I see satellite rivers on computer maps.
Panting against the cold air,
red-eared, I hiked those hills.
I saw a bear once, and a moose,
countless turkeys, deer.
On a class trip, we wandered a longhouse in a museum.
Inside a plaster Iroquois woman crouched bare-chested
beside imitation flame, imitation papoose hanging on the ....wall.
I made a model out of spaghetti, coffee grinds, leather ....scraps.
So easy to cook the new world foods: corn, beans, ....squash
but not to imagine the river Mahicanituk
without nuclear power plant on its shores.
Less easy to find arrowheads in your yard
but not impossible – who didn’t hang a dreamcatcher
in their rearview, wear moccasin driving shoes?
Who wasn’t in some way touched
by a feathered headdress set in a gold class ring
or else the man in loincloth dropped from a helicopter
hand to mouth running around the football field?
What Does the Fox Say?
The fox says tomorrow you are going to die.
You take this information
– you are a doctor taking the hand of a fetus
that protrudes from some engorged
and displaced womb – and you know
it is right as an unborn child.
There isn’t enough time to do
everything you meant to.
You don’t know yet if you will bleed
out or if the trees around you will blur
as you fall to the ground. This, the fox says,
is impossible to know, but it happens tomorrow.
The bed will stay unmade, like every morning,
but you’ll make it to the dry cleaner and the butcher.
Your email inbox will never be emptied
but it seems likely you will manage to call your mother.
As always, you will cry breathlessly into the receiver.
“Are you okay?” she’ll say. “Are you hurt?”
“I’m okay. I’m okay,” you’ll say. “I’m losing my mind.”
The Harvest Already Planted
I depend on you to come, to run down the hall gusseting short little breaths when I click my tongue against the ridge of my hard palate. If I make kissing-noises, you promise to treat my illness, injury, and other impairments to restore my human health. When I say I’m hungry, you feed me corn salad, mashed turnips, canola oil. When my dresses stop fitting, you comb my hair for lice. Sometimes we sleep for days.
Patty is wearing mohair and pouring herself an
She has marathoned through today
the way we marathoned all days in sixth grade:
smelling of sweat and new pubic hair,
drunk on childhood and too much cologne
and beer from a man who pulled over once
and passed it out his window,
all the merciless boy-warriors chanting,
"Mine. This is mine. I'm telling on you."
and sometimes exploding frogs--
poor wet boney things.
In guidance, we sat across from two boys
all crew-cuts and baseball caps.
They picked on us endlessly and I thought
we were fighting on the same side
until one day, they called me “bitch”
and she agreed, said, “feeling bitchy?”
No blushing like the time Colin Hunt
pointed at my training bra. Just mad red.
Mad red still.
Today, Patty thinks of herself as good,
does not wonder what her coworkers said
when she returns to the lunch table,