The Breakup

This was after we’ve both said bitter things
and the light’s begun to fade. We stopped
at a small fishing village outside Maine.
His stubbled face looked as composed as mine
on that overcast evening, as we stood
at the edge of the hard crag listening
to the waves beat against the solemn rocks
like relentless cries from the ocean’s heart.
And he took a few steps back and said, hey
let’s get back to the car and keep going.
And I thought maybe he too was afraid
to listen – this sound we heard everywhere
we went but it left us still so broken.
At night the wind came from the sea and made
the lonely grey poplars murmur more tunes.
He did not notice, and I – although I
didn’t believe there could be more – still I
sat up in the hushed car and listened.

 

Originally published on January 22nd, 2016 on my old blog. 

Many Years Later

Many years later, she saw him standing
in the cereal aisle of AJ’s Fine Foods.
He was reading the nutrition label
on a box of frosted flakes, still wearing
his mucky white converse with no shoestrings.

It was nearing seven. The blue between
two clouds grew paler but never vanished.
A bulb of white light quivered, and kept on
quivering still on the blank store ceiling.
Without a sound she turned away to see

if she has found everything she wanted.
Somewhere over the baking supplies aisle,
two shopping carts bumped into each other,
two strangers, mumbling soft apologies,
carefully went on their separate ways.

 

Originally published on January 9th, 2016 on my old blog.

Sister Moon

Mother, mother,
what have you done with my sister,
the other burnt charcoal white moon
from the same pear-shaped room
where I flew out like a bald bird
singing O love love be all mine.

Her life would have been mine;
her first cry would have woken the mother
in an iceberg, let alone you; her songbird
twittering of notes calling me sister sister
would have echoed through my bedroom;
if only the night queen loved her baby moon.

But mother, your night never needed a moon.
It was lit up by bottles and cries that weren’t mine.
I went into the wood, into the witch’s hutch-room
of black air, blacker than all of your hair, mother!
There I lay awake holding the soft form of a sister
who had gone to sleep like a sweet milk bird

nested inside all this love, my tiny bluebird
of a sister, my otherwise happiness, a full moon
melting into sixteen candles, pink-rose face of my sister
blooming into yours, and I denied everything to be mine –
all your trembling bells and stubborn curls, dear mother.
You laughed and said I was the blueprint of the room

where you’d lie down to die someday, a coffin room
from which you couldn’t escape. A caged bird
forever singing blues and lullabies, O mother,
you were the canoe that sunk under a waxing moon.
But the crescent of your face fell into place with mine;
your freckles tacked to my nose like love, like my sister

never leaving the nook in your shoulder. My ghost of a sister,
a longing with elbows and knees, tiptoed from my room
to yours every starless night. This game of mine
couldn’t save me from sadness, just like a bird
couldn’t take off from your canoe under the moon
without wings; without the bells of a mother.

My happiness, your absence, my sad white paper bird
gone into a world stained by the light of an eclipsed moon.
We’ve both been so alone in our blue rooms, haven’t we, mother?

 

Originally published on December 28th, 2015 on my old blog. 

Mary Jane

Mary Jane is the girl
who perches her five-year-old chin
on the windowsill
like a small bird in the sycamore tree.
She doesn’t speak
nor would she run across the street.
But she could blow a bubblegum bubble
as round as a dream and as loud as herself.

At tea parties where the floral girls
sit and giggle knee to knee
Mary Jane pours air into cups of brown leaves,
and when everybody goes to sleep
she draws portraits under her swan sheets
one of Lily who is pretty;
one of Anna who tells secrets;
one of Bernice who is as alone as herself.

Mary Jane is the girl
who puts her favorite bow on the bald moon
and lets a lost ladybug hide in her sleeves.
She doesn’t cry
nor would she go to the ball without her red shoes.
And she dances behind the summer reeds
until her sundress spreads out like wings,
and she believes the butterfly in the pond to be herself.

When the floral girls put on aprons
and shop for meat sauces instead of ribbons,
they wonder what has become of Mary Jane,
that small milk feather of a girl
who hopscotches barefoot on the lawn after the rain;
who never finds another bird in the sycamore tree;
who could blow a bubblegum bubble
as round as a dream and as loud as herself.

 

Originally published on December 16th, 2015 on my old blog. 

Seventh Piece (Love’s Paradox)

There, five inches above your rosy skin, is a hand,
a gesture, a hesitation, a tired bird looking for a nest, my hand.

How infinitely close Pluto is to his gold-haired Sun.
How infinitely far you are to my uncertain touch.

Why have we come to this, darling love!

On this cold blue evening we are as close as two stars,
and as far apart as you are in my arms.

Onion

This is not about
how she makes me cry.
It’s not even

about the tender heart, tied
to a secret, hidden
beneath her

white organza dress, unattainable
despite my teary efforts.
You see – this is about

her coming to ripeness in my garden,
a full moon rising
to the high throne. Indubitably she is

the queen’s picking, fattened virgin
bulb, green stalks
soon to flower. Overnight,

poignantly and nervously, she drags
her robe of white mist
in slow waltz, my sweet deb.

Come daybreak I will have to take her
out of her loam-perfumed
boudoir, and marry her off to the gentle

yellow bell pepper.

 

Originally published in Mount Hope, Issue 9, Spring 2016