In her apartment, a 5th floor walkup on the edges of the Lower
East Side, I could hear the whistle-hiss of the radiators. It was spring,
technically, but the forecast admitted, with a twinge of defeat, more
snow coming mid-week. She opened the door embarrassed, crying,
her body spent from the long season and a weariness in her heart
that she feared was permanent, a drought of the muscle necessary
for survival in this dense, relentless city. We said, “But this is what
it means to be alive.” How a certain retreat, structureless and shadowy,
lets the oxygen back in. How roots grow better in the dark. And we sat, quiet,
as heat flowered from the walls and the room filled with sounds of the busy street.
be the holy universe
If you exploded from the pressure. Left a comet trail of toothy rubble.
Blasted the sky with metal-hot planets and their icy twins.
If you ignored the usual parameters of space.
If you let the edges shrink from the margins and disappear.
If you coalesced and dissolved in the same breath. If you carried the paradox
of change, the instruction to take in and let go. If you forgot the body
that brought you here, at the intersection of now and what next.
If you unremembered your winglessness. If you overlooked the signs
that said how far and how much. You can be the holy universe, too,
carving a map from scratch, shouting your prayer of new, indefinite light.
I’m holding on ‘til the last bud withers
When she waits until he falls asleep, lungs downshifting
from the day’s high dramas. When he counts back as the plane
descends, the number like a warm blanket on his shoulders
guiding this bird-beast home.
When my mother held Adrienne’s hand even after she slipped away.
When Kirsten clings to the thinnest edge of probability
that, at 46, a child might still be hers. Last night, I couldn’t get to sleep.
Maybe I was staying up for the weatherman’s guess at snow.
Or listening for instructions to appear like trail placards, directing the next steps.
Maybe I just didn’t want the day to end, watching for its final wink of light.
and the sun, come winter, waves feebly from a dim noon sky. Even a mountain