lost fragment

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For a Lost Fragment
Carol Moldaw

for C.H.

It’s a definite lack, being landlocked, bay-and-ocean-less:
I envy you the lapping ferry, especially on your way home,
as you face the receding city to catch the sunset’s neon sprawl.

Life itself can feel like a sprawl these days, but I’m grateful
emotions no longer roil needlessly inside me, unchecked
as the flash flood that yesterday surged through the Pojoaque,

lifting it beyond its sand-grit bed and churning up a swill
of watered-down mud. When we were young, on the coast
of Spain, it was all I could do to keep my agitations down.

Who knew how to admit to the furious flurry caged inside?
At the overpass, a long line of cars—it looked like a pileup—
had emptied out to spectate the tumult moiling below.

To see the swollen river up close, once home I put on
waders and crossed our field, flooded only in pockets
until near the back V-gate, where suddenly the water rose

knee-high with a pushing force and a continuous roar
like a full-on stampede—the escaped river trampling its bed,
flattening cottonwood, salt cedar, Russian olive, in its wake.

Submerged like a floodplain, the past’s reshaped by brush
and bracken being swept downstream, by the water that,
subsided, reveals corrective contours, blank spaces, scraps

missing, regretted, newly understood. I wish I still had
that unfinished love poem I scrawled in a long-lost ledger.
As if it could ferry us back, redirect one moment’s course.

regret

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Regret
Naomi Shihab Nye
To forgive ourselves for what we didn’t do
Replay a scene over and over in mind
Change it change
Apologizing to our own story handful of soil
I could have planted something better here

To walk without remembering another walk
To wash off the hope of a darkened day
Make a new one

This is normal here, the fathers say
bombs exploding
tourists stepping carefully over grenades
Excuse us this is not the life
we would have made or the way
we would have welcomed you
tear gas billowing over our streets
Regular
Usual
SOS
We are so tired.

Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

sex

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What Sex Becomes
Olivia Gatwood
I remember being a waitress
on Valentine’s Day and loving
the newness on a couple’s face,

how I watched, like the only patron
at a matinee, as they shared
everything they ate.

I would deliver their sundae
with an extra cherry–
the one she would slide into her mouth–
a preview of what was to come.

I felt like a school teacher
who goes home to no children,
a cab driver without a car,

a therapist who cries
in the middle of the night
and can’t figure out why.

cannibal woman

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Cannibal Woman
Ada Limón
I’m looking for the right words, but all I can think of is:
parachute or ice water.

There’s nothing, but this sailboat inside me, slowly trying to catch
a wind, maybe there’s an old man on it, maybe a small child,

all I know is they’d like to go somewhere. They’d like to see the sail

straighten go tense and take them some place. But instead they wait,
a little tender wave comes and leaves them
right where they were all along.

How did this happen? No wind I can conjure anymore.

My father told me the story of a woman larger than a mountain,
who crushed redwoods with her feet, who could swim a whole lake

in two strokes—she ate human flesh and terrorized the people.

I loved that story. She was bigger than any monster, or Bigfoot,
or Loch Ness creature—

a woman who was like weather, as enormous as a storm.

He’d tell me how she walked through the woods, each tree
coming down, branch to sawdust, leaf to skeleton, each mountain
pulverized to dust.

Then, they set a trap. A hole so deep she could not climb out of it.

(I have known that trap.)

Then, people set her on fire with torches. So she could not eat them
anymore, could not steal their children or ruin their trees.

I liked this part too. The fire. I imagined how it burned her mouth,
her skin, and how she tried to stand but couldn’t, how it almost felt

good to her—as if something was finally meeting her desire with desire.

The part I didn’t like was the end, how each ash that flew up in the night
became a mosquito, how she is still all around us
in the dark, multiplied.

I’ve worried my whole life that my father told me this because
she is my anger: first comes this hunger, then abyss, then fire,

and then a nearly invisible fly made of ash goes on and on eating mouthful

after mouthful of those I love.

 

great thanks

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Thanks
W.S. Merwin

Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
taking our feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
thank you we are saying and waving
dark though it is

Photo by Luke Besley on Unsplash

swimming in january

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Swimming in January
Vicki Feaver
Because, like every new lover,
I want to enter the underworld
and take you with me, I lead you
into the sea in January – naked into a sea
that flows round our calves and knees
like green fire: deeper and deeper –
feet off the shingle now – gulping half air,
half salt-water, drifting almost to the edge
where there’s no returning
before we strike back
to the beach – past windsurfers
sealed in rubber wet-suits, struggling
to lift orange sails, past wading birds
dipping yellow beaks into a film
of mirrored cloud – emerge,
white legs moving like sticks over
oil-blackened sand, at the breakwater
where we draped clothes and towels,
rubbing each other back to life.

Photo by petradr on Unsplash

convictionless smile

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Lipstick
Connie Wanek

She leaned over the sink
her weight on her toes
and applied lipstick
in quick certain strokes
the way a man signs
his hundredth autograph
of the morning.
She tested a convictionless smile
as the lipstick retracted
like a red eel.
All day she left her mark
on everything she kissed,
even the air,
like intoxicating news
whispered from ear to ear:
He left it all to me.