Continental Drift Theory
For two nights we slept
as two people who were once
in love: our bodies
settled into one another,
our skin quiet. No quickening,
only habit, and sleep hard come.
Our first farewell, said
without knowing, drowned
by our delight, shared and singular,
in what surrounded us:
the otter smashing some meal
against the pilings;
the little red crabs
under the boardwalk;
the line of pelicans
cutting low above the harbor.
That April afternoon,
the light bending long
across the water, did I not think,
my love, there at the moment
the ending began like a rock
slipped into the bay?
I’d wanted to fix in my mind
your face, wanted to fix,
at the coast, the slow drift
that separated us.
Difficult now to imagine–
the gesture weak,
the occasion quite late.
The Last Time
I hardly remember the last time
we touched each other with tenderness:
the evening’s fall, the light dim, the rug new,
our life rambling ahead of us as the valley runs
to the foothills. Surely I called your name,
pulled you close; surely you trembled, our bodies
tangled and damp; yet what lingers in my mind,
what rings so clear is the hot mouth of shame opening
in my gut, awakened by the more I’d wanted: to taste
and at the same time be tasted, to be ridden, to take
inside me whatever you would give. Shame,
in both the wanting and the wanting’s return,
swallowing whatever longing I wanted to voice.
I could hardly know that mouth’s alarm,
gilding the night, was a warning–had assumed
the maze farther south, its center quiet.
Bedtime Story for the Bruised-Hearted
The trees were all women once,
fleeing a god whetted with lust
until their fathers changed them, bound
their bodies in bark, and still the god took:
a branch to crown his own head,
the reeds to hold his breath.
How like them, our fathers,
those small gods who unearthed
their children with rage,
who scored the bark
and bent the branch
to bind their bodies with our own.
Tonight, my love, we are free
of men, of gods, and I am a river
against you, drawn to current and eddy,
ready to make, to be unmade.
We come from abundance, each season
bowed with rain. But here is the earth,
eager to flame, the air like salt, thirsty
even for the water we carry
in our skin. New wanderers in this land,
we do not know how to wait for water,
have never waited so long for rain
that every tree died, left to stand tinder.
For now, I watch the shoulder burn,
drive through the smoke that blots the mountains,
and holds the old yolk of sun. I know nothing
of fire, its reach, its spread, know only
that every body makes its own ash,
manages its own diminishing.