Various and Sundry Poetry


Maybe it was wrong to have this conversation
in the parking lot of the highest point in the city,
the view spreading out below like caramel praline,
all that coastline, all those hills, that water, those skyscrapers,
the air, pushing through this crack of mountain and radio tower
rifling the tourists’ hairdos and windbreakers
as they sat in silence on giraffe-print seat covers,
a white rose wilting between them.
Maybe the first of June was ill-timed as the day
to let go, admit defeat, cut the story
at its knees and offer the lackluster, conciliatory gesture
of a hug. Perhaps she shouldn’t have worn the blouse
with the flattering neckline, or the necklace with the circle,
green and earthy, at its center, or the cowl-hooded coat
that could easily warm two bodies on such a blustery afternoon.
Maybe she should have waited until they were both home
in their separate apartments and made the announcement
by phone, so when the call ended the retreat would not have included
the loaded silence of the car, or the movie crew cordoning off
the lot below to set up the big shot, or the rescue helicopter
karate-chopping the sky, or the golden spokes of sun
that landed on the dashboard and cast cinematic shadows of their profiles.
Maybe it was wrong to want to end on this note with their bodies
awkwardly proximate, and the sand from their nap on the beach
two days ago clinging to the caddy where the water bottle had been,
and the seagull feather that had whispered thoughts of flight
into her ear now resting comfortably in the center of the back seat.
Maybe it was wrong not to look directly in the eye and say
what needed saying, and instead have the words bubble out
into the steering column, then slant left to the change holder.
Love is never an exact science. The choreography goes
unrehearsed, its arms noodly as a teenage boy’s.
An effort at grace is attempted then thwarted. The perfume
sours, the belly bloats, the syllables sputter and halt,
and she is struck by the incongruities between them now,
the way the news slices them in two, frays them
like spent wires. There is nothing left to do, and that,
perhaps, is the saddest thing, the room of them gutted to the bone,
and an emptiness whistling through.
But this is the only way. She knows this like she knows
the far corners of a basketball court, where the sweetest
shot lives. Like the heat of a tealight in the middle
of a power outage, how the palms could cup that warmth forever.
She knows this like the sound of alley cats and rain and home.
Like that place on the back of the neck that stays
tender and forgiving, ready to arch itself up and stretch its flesh
to meet the next great kiss.