Reflections of a Grown Woman

Her hallway opened into the singing of a moon half drowned
in a cup of evening tea while she stopped moving to keep from waking
and wandering through another fifteen years of rain trickling down her windows.
Lighting a candle didn't bring him back, she whispered to the girl
standing through the haze as wax kissed the skin on her hands

like a bee. Her hand flexed under the weight. Where will we see him come,
said the girl through the haze. Where will his eyelids bat our cheeks
and call us angel again. Climbing the ladder
never brought her comfort, and she filled her lungs until
the water spilled from her eyes, reflections of a grown woman

standing before a man who wasn't her father. His legs too skinny
and his feet too heavy on the stairs. The hay felt like needles through her
dress and screams came running and laughing from the upstairs window
like the time the man not her father smashed the plates against the floor
and they played hide and seek together under the table

until morning. They pretended their tears were a potion to turn
them into birds and they could fly. She sat on the hay
until she smelled the man collapse into a cloud of smoke
and float away like the old raft on the lake.
Here again she cried herself into the bedroom and the blood

on the sheets. She could smell him there, the leather boots and the warm
petals. Always he left warm petals across the floor
like drops from a bloody nose to the bed, where hair and sweat
crawled together and held each other tight, the sheets wrinkled into a lonely
night filled with promises and handprints left on the window.

In Response to a Wall in Provo

I remember like wind warming
my cheeks. For days passed like tip-toed
whispers I long, and I hope for a return
to the untold folds in tomorrow's sheets.

While Papa Died

eventually he won't bleed she said
while dreaming elephants upon the corrugated rooftops
dancing in toe shoes and thimbles for hats
her mother didn't hear the words across her
cooling soup as the steam drew faces upon the ever
widening expanse of her eyes some of the faces cold and formed like tinmen
from the old cans that papa threw out to the dogs
both elated and emaciated from winter
and the running water resting like david between the burst pipe
and a melting scene of grass and tangled hair

eventually he won't bleed she said
into the white dress her mother bought her for her birthday
when the narcissus and daffodils groped the air
for pleasure the air would tremble as rough hands lifted her skirt
above her knees and down again
they both knew though they never spoke or made eye contact
in fact she had never seen his face but she dreamed that he had blue eyes
and cheeks that smelled like sound of chickens clucking
through the yard she liked when he would smile at her with his hands
and whisper summer rains into her memory
she missed him when he left and she remained curled and bleeding
her eyes painting upon her cheeks like spring paints upon frozen hillsides

eventually he won't bleed anymore she said
to the woman with the white gown and stethoscope mama gave
me a white dress last spring and i turned seventeen forever
when he smiled at me with his fingers like the laughter you hear
in the morning on the hillsides as the sun rises but turn to find the voices
hiding again in the grasses growing greener than they used to
he would take me places far away she said and he would leave me there for
us to grow old together like the china in grandma's cupboard
together he'd tell me secrets the woman in the white gown
would leave the room then and always like she was looking for a pet cat
and silence like an uncomfortable hat would fall from its place
on the coat tree and cry she would cry to because she forgot the most important part
that mama smiled when she put on her dress and said
mountains with a tanager's voice

eventually he won't bleed anymore she said
as the smell of dirt lifted her from heaven to the grave
and all the whispers and foretold memories of centuries precipitated upon
the windows of the car while lady sang the blues like sandpaper
and the music undressed her until she cried in front of him
for the first time she saw herself in the silver of the mirror and she
was beautiful without her dress and completely cold her eyes succumbed to her
and she stared into the mirror and saw herself
before she saw him and never his face for her protection
and he always had blue eyes


Marginal Notes

The lightness of your skin lifts
me without feathers into an atmospheric
coma, sifting flour through my fingers,
looking for gold in a placer on the southern
bank of an oxbow. Blankly I stare

into the infinite depth between your
freckles, the green in your eyes sprouting
from fertile soils, not hyberbolizing
into the grand and methodical void where
we used to swim on summer's nights,

letting the moon paint our bodies white
as we lifted off our shirts and let goosebumps
illustrate our arms and legs as our clothing fell
limply to the black beneath us. And we, shadows
in film negatives, dived into the cold and drowned

for an hour. I would look at you looking at me and up
into the stars we would fall, dancing like a paperback
in your hands at night in the half-light
my parent's living room. You would sit there, eyes
traversing the terrain with precaution, lips
mouthing the words written in pencilled margins.

Your legs would droop over the arm
of the chair, as if morning had missed the last train
and would arrive late. But morning, we both knew,
would never come again. So I stared

into the chasms and cravasses of your skin,
and let the wind lift me, with the lightness
of your skin and without a jacket
in the evening air, to the peak of Vesuvius,
where I would sit and watch the sun rise
for eternity, as around me orange tongues
would lick the air and warm me.


Together We Cry

As misunderstanding stood up and walked
out of the room, his eyes met mine
as if to say follow, follow and i'll dive
into your soul, to that sacred secret place
beneath the tightrope, beneath the falling
clouds, and together we'll wander through
shards of glass like a cemetery and feel
the blood rush to the tips of our fingers
and spill out at impossible angles,
like the look in your eyes right now.

He painted the colors of the skies at sunset
as he walked past, blowing away thousands of years
of dust, uncovering the leaf tattooed on the sandstone
shoulder of the Earth. He could have painted
the moon and the stars and lifted me effortlessly
into that submission of the leaves to autumn,
that submission that causes decay and resurgence
to a life unknown the day before, the year before, my
life before the flood. And he tangled his fingers
in my long hair with his eyes, that forgiven
sin of Adam the morning after his first kiss,
his first taste of the empty pond and the decrepit
barn where his father taught him to milk
their ayrshire, singing not a word not
a word not a word - his father would stand there
crying crucify and climb into the loft. Adam
gently squeezed the utters, not knowing

when to stop or when the next day would come,
unwanted and uncolored by the cold air
on his cheeks. I stood there and wept,
knowing that misunderstanding had left
the room to us, strangers of twenty years.
I looked across the room at the slowly burning
fire, the heat gently burping the stew, patting
gently and singing rockabye baby. His head
in his hands and the bottle at his feet, half full
in the evening light, he wandered through
that distant land of enthusiastic love, now memorialized
in the photo album under the bed, collecting dust.

Now, as winds clap their hands against the windows
in pungent delight, as the orchestral touch
of his hands against my shivering body inspires
eminence, as my mouth opens and closes, surrounding
the earth and heavens in ephemeral night, I
wrap him around me, his every inch of skin against
mine, a tapestry hanging on the wall above our bed.


In Autumns, Gently Weeping

If every winter they called
my name, my lips chapped
beneath noon-bright midnight
skies that dance an interpretive
odyssey, I would hold her
hand in mine, crying. She would

look across the snowfield, singing
of the Seer's tower in whispers like leaves
turning red and falling, then
like day to night, drying into
memory carried on the wind.

Her hand would grow cold in mine,
and together we, turning toward the end
like the sun in November,
would let the snow blind us
in its infinite wisdom and grace, letting
ourselves die.

Five years ago, she called me from my room
with a voice like steam rising from my cup
of tea. I didn't move or breathe. She
called again, and steam fogged
on my glasses. My lungs hesitated,
and I let go of the highest branch, falling
into blood-stained grass, the heifer,
still warm, beside me, steam rising
from the red cavity in its side, as grey
drizzled down, its eyes drifting
from black to that empty white
that filled my mind after saying
goodbye to my best friend
as he, quiet, slept in his final bed.


Pre-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder

And then you tell me, "Boy,
we can do much more together." And I
open the window into the violent

dance, multi-faceted arrangements
of sound and combustion, calling
from a world not ours and not falling;

and I feel the scream, the shyness
in the window, as you slide your arms
under my shirt and embrace.


I Have Known You in Your Afterlife

Resting my knees on the red floor, I lift
my head toward the tree, hands welded
together, fingers painted shut. My eyes, once
yours and singing, hold the air breathless. Outside
I fear, wings beating and beating, pulling me
farther into the warmth of Decembers
by the fire, a blanket worn majestically
across our shoulders, steam rising
from our tea with healing and a trumpet solo.

In this spot, knees on red, I first kissed you, the dust
from your lips drying the rain from the air,
streetlights black like your hair, smiling behind
curtained windows. Years before, or days,
you held flowers in your hands, and I moved
them gently to your hair, melting colors into silk and curls.
We were sixteen. My face didn't hold color,
and you thought I was ill. The doctor said nothing into
the clipboard, eyes saying even less as he turned
page after page, and back to the first.

The painters came at four and white
nauseated me until I cried. You stood, sweeping.
You didn't look at me until three days later
as we stood under the marquee, your cheeks charcoaled
with tears, and I didn't know why. I never knew why.
You stood with your hands at your side, and I
lifted mine to the reflected yellow sky. Without
moving my eyes, I looked into yours, my mouth shouting
into the abyss, the miles that separated us.

I walked down the street to your house, a pair of doves
in my hand, petals scattering behind me like the kaleidoscopic
tunnel into a lonely basement, water tip-toeing through
the windows and down the walls. It was there that I stabbed
you four times. You didn't ask why. I painted you a picture
of your screams, and you smiled without wonder.

Still I wait to die. You, dressed in a canary dress,
hold my hand, your own not cold, but cooling mine. I look
down, like I have for years, when I speak. You shoes
like daisies hanging in their place, the tree and a picture frame,
compliment the grass, warm and smiling. I touch your cheek
and feel my heart stop swirling as I drown.

When did you come, you would always ask. When and from
what. Your voice coated the words with burgundy
lace; I choked for answers. It was times like those
that I remembered taking you flowers. And like
a twelve year old seeing a naked woman for the first time,
I hugged my eyes with my fingers, choking
the light from outside the moon's grasping arms. I touched you
with my small finger, your lips trembling, not knowing what it was for.
I don't remember if you laughed or struggled for breath
as my hands wrapped around you. You held flowers
in porcelain hands, painted for the new year, and I slipped them
like cool air into mine before they fell to our feet. Blood

dripped from the thorn, and I lifted my thumb to your forehead, hiding
your tears behind a red mask, holding together the falling apart

of August nights. Headlights spilt down the road
and over us as we slept together on the pavement,
you in your canary dress and I alone.


Resting Hands

Without a family, friends or a home
my nine year old son walks from school,
his back pack hanging from his shoulders
like a great bird waiting to die. Green hands
rub across his shirt and he runs, the shoes,
two sizes too big and two years too old,
cracking like lightning across the street.

Like lightning across the beautiful street,
less than half a mile away and nearing, the neighbor's
wife walks the dog, slowly breathing,
for the night. I see her through the window
mouthing the words again and again:
if I die before I wake.
If I die. Before I wake,
if I die. Before I wake
Lord, my soul, please take. Take me away. From the window
I watch as she cries, my hands pressed gently to the glass,
painting a foggy Monet in transparency. I look into her
heart but I see nothing but the cotton pullover,
patched in the elbows, two sizes too big:
her husband's. Her empty hands shake
from the heat, and tears fall into heaven
for the man who will never comb her
hair through his silent fingers again.

Not a word, not a word, not a word
for her. She sees my son running
like a paper napkin tumbling on the wind
toward her, crying. And he stops. She stops.
Her dog has since walked home, the front door
locked and the lights off. She looks at him
as if from across an ocean, and he, nine years old,
spreads his arms, feathered and ready to fly,
toward tomorrow morning, when he'll wake early
and walk each step of a mile
to school and the girl with freckles who shares
her peanut butter and jelly sandwich with him.

He sees the tears crying out of her, wetting
her cheeks like the sprinklers before recess-
the teacher says don't play on the grass,
it will stain: your pants, your shirt, your hands. He sees
the tears crying out of her, and he picks a dandelion
from the grass- the sun's son, shining everlastingly
and guiding toward a land of flowing waters
where light washes the aching bones free
from every morning's waking, unrested,
in an empty bed, the covers pulled to one side-
stretching it forth toward her, his hands small and green.


Since I Memorized Your Face

Foreign life unfolded into the spring air,
decaying breath, smiling between branches
of the neighbor's poplar. She poured
herself into my eyes, and I drew a bonsai
inside her mother's plaid jacket, the orange
glow escaping from within the third movement,
a modern vesuvius: cold and breathy, aspirated
and alone amidst feeding sparrows, seedlings
uprooted and dire. I stood, the door in my arm,
and waited blind for the mail. And she came with
a bag in hand, an unfolded blanket, a child
hanging from her lips. Crying as the mail came in,
the letters awkwardly addressed to the chinese
girl in my basement, singing
drawing on the walls, making the beautiful my life,
I hugged her while she raised her hand to hide her eyes.

Still and naked I stood, and she typed impressions
upon my skin, pounding and pounding on metal keys,
the piano untuned since 1973, and a rusted bracelet slipped
from her wrist. My naked body stood like a figurine
soldier, and she lifted me, and she dropped me
into the sink, paint washing down her face like the time
we spent all day in bed, playing dead, hammering nails
into each other's hands, driving stakes into each other's
hearts. She would smile often then, her lips open windows
into the turning autumn, red and red and red and red and red and red
until the wilting flowers drooped entirely and she would stand
before me, exposed and barren, forty miles from
the nearest town, dirt in her hair and mine. I would paint
into the night and a mirror, explaining the undesired results
of our first child with soft strokes of a horsehair brush. Dust to dust,
she would say, and I would paint.
I would paint with hands chapped, bleeding, folding the night
into a little package, tied lightly into a bow: she stabbed me for an hour
before I rose into the night. I rose.

And the pale faces on her cheeks laughed in the cold air, her laughter
less and less as she tried to become something that I wasn't and never could be.
She tried for days before the letters came, and the addresses
scribbled with her blood came, sent from the devils. We would open
them like we opened each other, in panoramic beauty, and read
with silent eyes news from her brother, distracted by a war. Alone
she wanted. Alone she stood. Alone I breathed and became her air,
filling her. She would cry sometimes when her skin grew cold,
and we would bow down, raising our hands to the top of the sky,
stretching forth the insignificant figures written on our hands: I do
not want to feel pain. I do not want to feel pain. Together we would pound
nails into one another's hands to stop the bleeding. She screaming.

Until morning she slept. Until morning our child slept, and I rose
in the dark to become her, and we became one flesh, being no more.


Your Dead Cease To Love

Her inverted whispers stand in the rain
like a dog, waiting to come in to the hollow house, tail
motionless and cold. Then she fell asleep, yellow
cotton sundress melting down her chest and arms,
her legs, sap on papery bark, constellations forming
across her face and a newborn sun crying,
crying over her brow, light spilling into her closed eyes
and the resonating room, slowly stilling. She
slept while the sky wept tears of compassion
upon her cheeks, her hands, her thighs. And clouds
disfigure their faces with black paint, while day
with night, fingers woven like ancient baskets,
walk to the bed and lie down, covers unfolding
blooms of butterfly and hibiscus, opening
and fluttering away.

Her hair grows long in sleep, a Rapunzel seated tenuously
at her tower window. In sleep her hair grows long,
too long to be seen or heard, like watching your parents
walk through the sliding doors and into the airport,
while you, alone, open the car door and sit down,
waiting to hear the click of another door, before driving away.



In florescent dreams the moon spills
over Jupiter into the Atlantic
undulations of my breathing. Once
every 14 years the bell rings, calling me
home for dinner without exaggeration.

On Saturdays the moon sleeps until
noon, opening the door for strangers
only, like childhood memories of dancing
around my friend's living room:
we didn't start the fire

we would yell as perfumed fists,
like cotton candy, painted our faces
red, black and blue. We could have been
patriots. We could have walked,
the streets turning like peaches in season,
for hours, midnight disappearing
over the horizon as we approached, each step
a minutely proportionate arrow,

finding unseen targets for the first time.
Her eyes closed in me, hands like marionettes
tangled in their own strings, and she
would cry, tears in her hollow eyes that hung
from the eaves of her second-floor room.

Wait for me until the morning, she would often say,
falling madly in love with reflections
of a former life in a distant land, undiluted
mistresses clinging insatiably to walls
of glass and unscented smoke. Together we breathed,
the air long enough to touch, and carved
masterpieces upon each other's skin, blankets,
the bible in our comfortable routine, draping
us in effigy. Together we breathed
and together we burned, ashes of orange sunsets
smothering affection from within, like the time

when I was a child and I fell from the weeping
tree, tears like symbols crashing around me,
into unconsciousness and delight: her breath
resting on my fashioned lapels, pink and worn.
Opening my eyes - two or four I forget -
they, the silent, encircled me, arms of plastic
calmly caressing, tenderly tugging at my clothes

until I rest naked on my front lawn, the night
spitting insults at my undeveloped body,
warm and enticing. A tree spreads
its branches within me, budding, flowering,
fruiting, its roots penetrating and strong,
holding me to the Earth and rising, downward,
like arms and moss.


The Anatomy of Waiting

Without feathers, he stood akimbo
at the watering hole, parallel features
on two faces paddling like the ante-diluvial
sun over mountains, unseen
through pages of fog, toward him. Hair lifted, carried
by some fortune, whether good or ill,
from his forehead and eyes, watering

and blue. Like sunflowers at noon stare,
unblinking as gargoyles atop cathedrals
majestic and dark, the faces on the water
sink, a diminuendo into a winter's morning,
before collapsing into shards of cloud,
milk tinged with wildflower honey.

Yet eyes, like mallow in the sand, look to heaven
without guile and spring forth, the taste
of salt on their parched lips, waiting for those
with wings to carry him away to the tundras
of immortality, words unremembered
since the first day of rain anno domini, dancing
like a bee for the flower, naked and indehiscent.


In Vivo

Whether or not she stepped out of the shadows,
he said, eyes spilling to soil, mixing for breath,
I will never see the light again on her face,
calmly, palely, unuttered. Then
the ghost came, whistling, coming
through the valley and she
came, a smile nailed to both of her hands,
without a face so clear, so subtle.

Four years ago they sat together,
plastic looking almost mahogany
in the evening lecture. Like bumble
bees they climbed into flowers,
rolling and twisting, almost
writhing, but coreographed, until
the hope of life wrapped around
their legs and limbs. They licked
petals from their eyes, unblinking.

A momentary breath caught her thinking,
caused her to breathe, as he looked
into the mirror, walking slowly to the wall,
then to heaven. Without a whisper
he could never understand, turning and turning
in a bowl filled slowly, gently, with little
slips of paper, the lid unclasped, leaning closed.

Like a child grasping a pencil tightly,
writing d'nealian on widely spaced paper,
repeating pictures, slowly and carefully,
daringly, he touched her and she withered,
opening, her words flowing and revealing
tomorrow's first child, resting
in a basket without tears.


Unintended Morphology

everybody knows if you don't mind
your mothers words, they sneak up behind
and lick the wounds from yesteryears
and former lifetimes, distanced by you
and a momentary pause as I
look into your eyes. you only smile
on tuesdays and I can see life

in you. I mirror myself, emulations
upon canyon walls painted orange for autumn,
staying here, playing here, on the shelf

across from pianos sprung brightly.

time has come to open the envelope,
a silver lake across the open sands
sprinkling rain like flames rising
from your grandfather's pipe, fresh
lit. each breath coughs smoke

into eyes watering. fading smiles with eraser strokes
across the mountain's feet, a winter
deep underground, moss and fabrication. hold me now
or hold me once and for all, an ultimatum worth

repeating. no,

she won't bring back the days filled with maple
and powdered sugar. Filed away in some cabinet, miles
and miles
from the beginning of nowhere, the edge of serenity's
infertile sanity. We'll sing and we'll shout
until the aah's and oo's
crack into little boy, little boy lost

listening to a mother or a stranger. she'll run
on, alone between his knees,
naming the children with each breath, measuring each step:
one alligator two. In time
to the opening of another window
at summer's precipice. joy and a girl catalog
stories untold, secrets hidden
behind guitar chords, wearing a dress.

The King

He wears his passion like a thorned
crown, tears blending with blue
tears on his cheeks on her cheeks
on his cheeks on hers. The once-king
cries as promises slip with her robe

down her arm revealing the hidden
skin: her forbidden skin. The night
quickens to his touch. Dark and dark
and dark. She smiles, eyes light, floating
from the thought of a husband

off to war like a candled prayer across
the water. Skin blends with pale
skin in the moonlight. Hair on hair
on hair. Eyes close. Blood dries
on his robes on his hands on his

lips as he stands with her on the roof.
Hand blends with bloody hand.
Lip touches bloody lip. Robes fall
with bloody robes. His crown
of passion thorned.


exiled, we penitent come

she spoke through the switch
grass and looked up
at me. words like yesterday
pass and sing and scratch
at the back door, whining,

wanting the door to open but not
wanting to come in.

she came in and i didn't hear
the glass break on the table
or her nails across my back,

feeling the chalk on the blackboard,
and my tired eyes, wiping away the dust.
she forgot to whisper, like the time

two years ago in the cathedral
we sat as the father stretched
his eyes toward adam and our lord
and the stained glass-

a virgin dressed in shades
of red, and her mouth pale,
waiting for a kiss, and wanting-

she wouldn't look,
not at me, not in the eyes
but then it's funny, isn't it?
the way eyes can turn a man
to stone. can turn a man.
her hymnal rested red in her lap, almost black
and unravelling.

the words never changed
so fast or so empty
as when she spoke,
penitent and unforgiving,
into the palm of my hand

we cry, poor, banished,
children of eve.

the father raised his eyes
from the heavens
to her

i raised my eyes from her
lap and the hymnal, the words
a stagnant pool, and my arm
floated to her cheek
and the tear, black
on white.

white dust fell, not like snow
in the middle of december that winter,
dark with streetlights.

my hands were dirty then
and now as i wipe the dust
on the leg of my pants. she came in
when she didn't want to,
she only wanted an open door
and the smell of clean sheets.

Sound and Fury

Curtained rooms open
to dusty eyes
feeling the Earth go
(ing) through my clothes until
the sun emerges
from its quiet tomb. Clouds
burst, the rasping
of crickets, a substance
felt on the flesh: flour
on hands kneading
kneading kneading
to remember
then forget
when I last breathed.

To Me

There I sit, unpardoned
of former crimes against myself,

and I blink between words
on the page. Come
to me again, she would always say.
Come to me
again. Again and again

I failed
to leave the cave
which bound me, the shadows
playing silently
on the wall, reflecting
in my blue eyes. Tomorrow
I'll stay again. And again. And
still she'll call, come
to me again. Again,
come. To me.

I close my eyes and leave for her.


My Face Is My Mask

without any hat
water makes me sick
and Lorraine
if you had wings
you could fly to heaven

if you just had a quarter

instead you toil up
the steps shapeless
a painful
and terrific
a soundless arpeggio

my eyes hold their breath
meaningless and sustained
the sacred tree tick-tocking
solemn and profound

and she says in her single soprano
yes Jesus! the dry pulse
of her decaying house as two tears
slide down her fallen cheeks

I see the light and I see
the word
just sound

sometime maybe
she'll hold him at the nightfall
whilst the angels singing him to sleep

He Saw A Woman Washing

Glass shatters as her tea sifts between
her toes like the sand on the beach last June,
salt drying anklets
on blushing skin. The sun was setting
just right then, like a memory
cleaned and recleaned with time,
where only pure curves and tinkling bells
exist: the horizon, a wakefulness swimming
deeper into black. Come morning
she forgets that she even existed,

even if for just a moment, once,
long before the genesis, before
the trees greyed with age and cast shadows
on soils unafraid. From her the flowers
go, petals like kisses from her
mother's eyelashes, gentle on her
cheeks. But now, laughter carries a cane
as he slowly steps,
hunched, down
the hall. Salt stinging, eyes
open to the blue, divinely-hung triptych.

Among women, blessed art thou, she said.
For I alone wander.