There are too many ancestors, so we are gathering their bones.

The poor ones, their graves broken by the roots of trees. The ones whose headstones have been weathered as blank as snow-drifts.

We have bought the wide plot. We have built the mausoleum. And now we fill it with the bones.

The ones killed in the monsoon floods. The one buried in her wedding dress. The one buried with his medals.

Because there will be a time when we cannot keep track of them, scattered in the cemetery like prodigals, we collect the bones.

The ones whose faces I can still recall. The ones who have been dead for a hundred years. We collect their bones. 

At each opened grave, we think about the body taking its shape as father, sister, cousin, uncle. We hunger for the story of each figure.

We hold the bones, though we know memory is mostly forgetting. Or memory is the sweeper who clears the sidewalk each morning. Or memory is the broom.

The mausoleum is marble, white as certain roses, and shaped like a house. There is room for everyone we will put there.

The rich ones, their gravestones glowing with gold paint. The infants with sweet names.  
We open their graves. We move their bones.

Look back far enough and your family becomes unfamiliar, a circle of people with a fading circumference.  

When I think of it long enough, home becomes a confusion of birthplace, hometown, country, and nation.

We walk through the cemetery, we point to our own, and we gather their bones.

Maybe memory is the desperate pharaoh who commands that the things of this life go with him into the next.

I would take with me the books I loved best. A jar of the ocean spanning my two countries. A slip of my lover’s sunny hair.  

I would take with me a sack of rice. My mother’s orange shawl. The robe my father wears in the kitchen at night, drinking a glass of water.  

That we might go to just one place to worship them, to wonder at who they were, we are moving the bones.  

Our tribe of eros and vinegar. Our black hair, our ordinary minds.

Holding the bones, we say the names of the dead, the music of the syllables, conjuring the hearts they answered to.  We hold the bones. 

Each stern skull. Each proud sternum. Each elegant rib, curved like a horizon.

Copyright © 2021 by Rick Barot. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 10, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

A boy, prettier than me, who loved me because
my vocabulary and because my orange pills, once asked me
to translate my father’s English.

blank square

This poem wants me to translate it too.
Idiot poem, idiot hands for writing it

an accent isn’t sound.
Only those to whom it seems alien
would flatten an accent to sound.

blank square

My poem grew up here, sitting in this American chair
staring out at this lifeless American snow. 

Black grass dying up out of this snow,
through a rabbit’s

long tracks, like a ghost
sitting upright
saying oh.

blank square

But even that’s a lie.

Just black grass, blue snow.
I can’t write this

without trying to make it
beautiful. Submission, resistance, surrender.

blank square

On first
inspecting Adam, the devil entered his lips,

Watch: the devil enters Adam’s lips
crawls through his throat through his guts
to finally emerge out his anus.

He’s all hollow! the devil giggles.
He knows his job will be easy, a human just one long desperation
to be filled.

blank square

My father’s white undershirt peeking out
through his collar. My father’s hand slicing skin, gristle,
from a chicken carcass I hold still against the cutting board.

Sometimes he bites his bottom lip to suppress
what must be
rage. It must be rage

because it makes no sound. My vast
terror at what I can’t hear,

at my ignorance, is untranslatable.
My father speaks in perfect English.

Copyright © 2021 by Kaveh Akbar. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 23, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

         Midnight snow swirls in the courtyard—
                 you wake and mark the steel-gray light of dawn,

                           the rhythm in your hands
                           of scissors cutting paper;

         you pull a blade against ribbon,
                    and the ribbon springs into a spiraling curl 
                                        when you release it;

         here, no one pulled a blade against the ribbon of desire,
                  a downy woodpecker drilled into a desiccated pear tree; 

         you consider how paper wraps rock,
                                         scissors snips paper,

         how this game embodies the evolution
                                         of bacteria and antibiotic;

         you can’t see your fingerprints on a door handle,
                   but your smudging,

                                       like trudging footprints in snow,

         track where and how you go—

                             wrapping
                             a chrysoprase heart in a box—

         how you look at a series of incidentals
                               and pull an invisible thread through them all.

Copyright © 2021 by Arthur Sze. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 7, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

It’s the closest thing to a cave. I have to resist
this wild urge to carve a name or word in it.

My favorite way to sit here is with cold vodka
& grapefruit juice & whatever bitter concoction

you’re sipping. Under the table I’ll nudge you
with my heels—a sign no stalactite or dripstone

will stop us. Bats do not require any energy
to claw-dangle upside down. All they need

is to relax & gravity & there’s plenty of both
swirling to go around. No matter how loud

this bar, within these three walls we can drop
straight into a very electric flight. We can

pretend we don’t answer to anyone–including
the waitress–& no one even knows where we are.

Copyright © 2021 by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 26, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Little grey dreams,
I sit at the ocean’s edge,
At the grey ocean’s edge, 
With you in my lap.

I launch you, one by one,
    And one by one,
      Little grey dreams,
Under the grey, grey, clouds,
Out on the grey, grey, sea, 
You go sailing away, 
From my empty lap,
      Little grey dreams.

Sailing! Sailing!
Into the black,
At the horizon’s edge.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on June 26, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Night is for sorrow and dawn is for joy,
Chasing the troubles that fret and annoy;
Darkness for sighing and daylight for song,—
Cheery and chaste the strain, heartfelt and strong.
All the night through, though I moan in the dark,
I wake in the morning to sing with the lark.

Deep in the midnight the rain whips the leaves,
Softly and sadly the wood-spirit grieves.
But when the first hue of dawn tints the sky,
I shall shake out my wings like the birds and be dry;
And though, like the rain-drops, I grieved through the dark,
I shall wake in the morning to sing with the lark.

On the high hills of heaven, some morning to be,
Where the rain shall not grieve thro’ the leaves of the tree,
There my heart will be glad for the pain I have known,
For my hand will be clasped in the hand of mine own;
And though life has been hard and death’s pathway been dark,
I shall wake in the morning to sing with the lark.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on June 27, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

     I was outside St. Cecelia's Rectory
smoking a cigarette when a goat appeared beside me.
It was mostly black and white, with a little reddish
brown here and there. When I started to walk away,
it followed. I was amused and delighted, but wondered
what the laws were on this kind of thing. There's
a leash law for dogs, but what about goats? People
smiled at me and admired the goat. "It's not my goat,"
I explained. "It's the town's goat. I'm just taking
my turn caring for it." "I didn't know we had a goat,"
one of them said. "I wonder when my turn is." "Soon,"
I said. "Be patient. Your time is coming." The goat
stayed by my side. It stopped when I stopped. It looked
up at me and I stared into its eyes. I felt he knew
everything essential about me. We walked on. A police-
man on his beat looked us over. "That's a mighty
fine goat you got there," he said, stopping to admire.
"It's the town's goat," I said. "His family goes back
three-hundred years with us," I said, "from the beginning."
The officer leaned forward to touch him, then stopped
and looked up at me. "Mind if I pat him?" he asked.
"Touching this goat will change your life," I said.
"It's your decision." He thought real hard for a minute,
and then stood up and said, "What's his name?" "He's
called the Prince of Peace," I said. "God! This town
is like a fairy tale. Everywhere you turn there's mystery 
and wonder. And I'm just a child playing cops and robbers
forever. Please forgive me if I cry." "We forgive you,
Officer," I said. "And we understand why you, more than
anybody, should never touch the Prince." The goat and
I walked on. It was getting dark and we were beginning
to wonder where we would spend the night.

From Lost River by James Tate, published by Sarabande Books, Inc. Copyright © 2003 by James Tate. Reprinted by permission of Sarabande Books and the author. All rights reserved.

To love a country as if you’ve lost one: 1968,
my mother leaves Cuba for America, a scene
I imagine as if standing in her place—one foot
inside a plane destined for a country she knew
only as a name, a color on a map, or glossy photos
from drugstore magazines, her other foot anchored
to the platform of her patria, her hand clutched
around one suitcase, taking only what she needs
most: hand-colored photographs of her family,
her wedding veil, the doorknob of her house,
a jar of dirt from her backyard, goodbye letters
she won’t open for years. The sorrowful drone
of engines, one last, deep breath of familiar air
she’ll take with her, one last glimpse at all
she’d ever known: the palm trees wave goodbye
as she steps onto the plane, the mountains shrink
from her eyes as she lifts off into another life.

To love a country as if you’ve lost one: I hear her
once upon a time—reading picture books
over my shoulder at bedtime, both of us learning
English, sounding out words as strange as the talking
animals and fair-haired princesses in their pages.
I taste her first attempts at macaroni-n-cheese
(but with chorizo and peppers), and her shame
over Thanksgiving turkeys always dry, but countered
by her perfect pork pernil and garlic yuca. I smell
the rain of those mornings huddled as one under
one umbrella waiting for the bus to her ten-hour days
at the cash register. At night, the zzz-zzz of her sewing
her own blouses, quinceañera dresses for her nieces
still in Cuba, guessing at their sizes, and the gowns
she’d sell to neighbors to save for a rusty white sedan—
no hubcaps, no air-conditioning, sweating all the way
through our first vacation to Florida theme parks.

To love a country as if you’ve lost one: as if
it were you on a plane departing from America
forever, clouds closing like curtains on your country,
the last scene in which you’re a madman scribbling
the names of your favorite flowers, trees, and birds
you’d never see again, your address and phone number
you’d never use again, the color of your father’s eyes,
your mother’s hair, terrified you could forget these.
To love a country as if I was my mother last spring
hobbling, insisting I help her climb all the way up
to the U.S. Capitol, as if she were here before you today
instead of me, explaining her tears, cheeks pink
as the cherry blossoms coloring the air that day when
she stopped, turned to me, and said: You know, mijo,
it isn’t where you’re born that matters, it’s where
you choose to die—that’s your country.

Copyright © 2019 by Richard Blanco. From How to Love a Country (Beacon Press, 2019). Reprinted with permission by Beacon Press.

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose
from the earth lives dimly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way
        to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.


Cien Sonetos de Amor: XVII (No te amo como si fueras rosa)

No te amo como si fueras rosa de sal, topacio
o flecha de claveles que propagan el fuego:
te amo como se aman ciertas cosas oscuras,
secretamente, entre la sombra y el alma.

Te amo como la planta que no florece y lleva
dentro de sí, escondida, la luz de aquellas flores,
y gracias a tu amor vive oscuro en mi cuerpo
el apretado aroma que ascendió de la tierra.

Te amo sin saber como, ni cuándo, ni de dónde,
Te amo directamente sin problemas ni orgullo:
así te amo porque no sé amar de otra manera,
sino así de este modo en que no soy ni eres,
tan cerca que tu mano sobre mi pecho es mía,
tan cerca que se cierran tus ojos con mi sueño.  

Pablo Neruda, “One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII,” translated by Mark Eisner, from The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems, edited by Mark Eisner. Copyright © 2004 by Mark Eisner. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of City Lights Books, citylights.com. 
 

I went thru the turnstyle to the party
In the risqué penthouse that was not
A penthouse, I followed people but maybe
They weren’t people, it was ethical
To follow them over the edges of the balloons
Until we found some tapsons to eat, heartily
We indulged & found the right move in relation
To the movements of the lion’s mouth, the mouth
Which counted all who entered & left waywardly
Haphazardly the immigrant sphere where
Frozen petals fell behind the red curtain
So slowly they woke me like a knock on door #7
         Behind which I’m dreaming
         & trying to tango remorselessly

Copyright © 2011 by Bernadette Mayer. Used with permission of the author.

 

Friends describe my DISPOSITION

as stoic. Like a dead fish, an ex said. DISTANCE

is a funny drug and used to make me a DISTRESSED PERSON,

one who cried in bedrooms and airports. Once I bawled so hard at the border, even the man with the stamps and holster said Don’t cry. You’ll be home soon. My DISTRIBUTION

over the globe debated and set to quota. A nation can only handle so many of me. DITCHING

class, I break into my friend’s dad’s mansion and swim in the Beverly Hills pool in a borrowed T-shirt. A brief DIVERSION.

My body breaking the chlorinated surface makes it, momentarily, my house, my DIVISION

of driveway gate and alarm codes, my dress-rehearsed DOCTRINE

of pool boys and ping pong and water delivered on the backs of sequined Sparkletts trucks. Over here, DOLLY,

an agent will call out, then pat the hair at your hot black DOME.

After explaining what she will touch, backs of the hands at the breasts and buttocks, the hand goes inside my waistband and my heart goes DORMANT.

A dead fish. The last female assist I decided to hit on. My life in the American Dream is a DOWNGRADE,

a mere DRAFT

of home. Correction: it satisfies as DRAG.

It is, snarling, what I carve of it alone.

From Look by Solmaz Sharif, published by Graywolf Press. Copyright © 2016 by Solmaz Sharif. Used with permission of Graywolf Press.

Thanks for the tree
between me & a sniper's bullet.
I don't know what made the grass
sway seconds before the Viet Cong
raised his soundless rifle.
Some voice always followed,
telling me which foot
to put down first.
Thanks for deflecting the ricochet
against that anarchy of dusk.
I was back in San Francisco
wrapped up in a woman's wild colors,
causing some dark bird's love call
to be shattered by daylight
when my hands reached up
& pulled a branch away
from my face. Thanks
for the vague white flower
that pointed to the gleaming metal
reflecting how it is to be broken
like mist over the grass,
as we played some deadly
game for blind gods.
What made me spot the monarch
writhing on a single thread
tied to a farmer's gate,
holding the day together
like an unfingered guitar string,
is beyond me. Maybe the hills
grew weary & leaned a little in the heat.
Again, thanks for the dud
hand grenade tossed at my feet
outside Chu Lai. I'm still
falling through its silence.
I don't know why the intrepid
sun touched the bayonet,
but I know that something
stood among those lost trees
& moved only when I moved.

Copyright © 1988 by Yusef Komunyakaa. From Dien Cai Dau (Wesleyan University Press, 1988). Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database

To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can't see, can't hear,
Can't know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren't always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon within a
True circle of motion, 
Like eagle rounding out the morning
Inside us. 
We pray that it will be done
In beauty.
In beauty.

From In Mad Love and War © 1990 by Joy Harjo. Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press. 

First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
assiduous team
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.

There is a ladder.
The ladder is always there
hanging innocently
close to the side of the schooner.
We know what it is for,
we who have used it.
Otherwise
it is a piece of maritime floss
some sundry equipment.

I go down.
Rung after rung and still
the oxygen immerses me
the blue light
the clear atoms
of our human air.
I go down.
My flippers cripple me,
I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
will begin.

First the air is blue and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element.

And now: it is easy to forget
what I came for
among so many who have always
lived here
swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
and besides
you breathe differently down here.

I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or weed

the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
the drowned face always staring
toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and sway into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
among the tentative haunters.

This is the place.
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body.
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he

whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
whose breasts still bear the stress
whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
obscurely inside barrels
half-wedged and left to rot
we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass

We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.

From Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972 by Adrienne Rich. Copyright © 1973 by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Reprinted by permission of the author and W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Copyright 1973 by Adrienne Rich.

I will swing my lasso of headlights
across your front porch,

let it drop like a rope of knotted light
at your feet.

While I put the car in park,
you will tie and tighten the loop

of light around your waist —
and I will be there with the other end

wrapped three times
around my hips horned with loneliness.

Reel me in across the glow-throbbing sea
of greenthread, bluestem prickly poppy,

the white inflorescence of yucca bells,
up the dust-lit stairs into your arms.

If you say to me, This is not your new house
but I am your new home,

I will enter the door of your throat,
hang my last lariat in the hallway,

build my altar of best books on your bedside table,
turn the lamp on and off, on and off, on and off.

I will lie down in you.
Eat my meals at the red table of your heart.

Each steaming bowl will be, Just right.
I will eat it all up,

break all your chairs to pieces.
If I try running off into the deep-purpling scrub brush,

you will remind me,
There is nowhere to go if you are already here,

and pat your hand on your lap lighted
by the topazion lux of the moon through the window,

say, Here, Love, sit here — when I do,
I will say, And here I still am.

Until then, Where are you? What is your address?
I am hurting. I am riding the night

on a full tank of gas and my headlights
are reaching out for something.

“If I Should Come Upon Your House Lonely in the West Texas Desert” originally appeared in The New York Times Magazine (April 1, 2021). Used with permission of the poet.

Three paces down the shore, low sounds the lute,
The better that my longing you may know;
I’m not asking you to come,
But—can’t you go?

Three words, “I love you,” and the whole is said—
The greatness of it throbs from sun to sun;
I’m not asking you to walk,
But—can’t you run?

Three paces in the moonlight’s glow I stand,
And here within the twilight beats my heart.
I’m not asking you to finish,
But—to start.

This poem is in the public domain. 

We stop at the dry cleaners and the grocery store   
and the gas station and the green market and   
Hurry up honey, I say, hurry,   
as she runs along two or three steps behind me   
her blue jacket unzipped and her socks rolled down.   

Where do I want her to hurry to? To her grave?   
To mine? Where one day she might stand all grown?   

Today, when all the errands are finally done, I say to her,   
Honey I'm sorry I keep saying Hurry—   
you walk ahead of me. You be the mother.   

And, Hurry up, she says, over her shoulder, looking    
back at me, laughing. Hurry up now darling, she says,   
hurry, hurry, taking the house keys from my hands.

From Kingdom of Ordinary Time (W. W. Norton, 2008). Copyright © 2008 by Marie Howe. Used with the permission of the author.

The world asks, as it asks daily: 
And what can you make, can you do, to change my deep-broken, fractured?

I count, this first day of another year, what remains. 
I have a mountain, a kitchen, two hands. 

Can admire with two eyes the mountain, 
actual, recalcitrant, shuffling its pebbles, sheltering foxes and beetles.

Can make black-eyed peas and collards.
Can make, from last year’s late-ripening persimmons, a pudding.

Can climb a stepladder, change the bulb in a track light.

For four years, I woke each day first to the mountain, 
then to the question.

The feet of the new sufferings followed the feet of the old, 
and still they surprised.

I brought salt, brought oil, to the question. Brought sweet tea, 
brought postcards and stamps. For four years, each day, something.

Stone did not become apple. War did not become peace. 
Yet joy still stays joy. Sequins stay sequins. Words still bespangle, bewilder. 

Today, I woke without answer. 

The day answers, unpockets a thought from a friend

don’t despair of this falling world, not yet

didn’t it give you the asking

Copyright © Jane Hirshfield. Used with permission of the author.

Dear March—Come in—
How glad I am—
I hoped for you before—
Put down your Hat—
You must have walked—
How out of Breath you are—
Dear March, how are you, and the Rest—
Did you leave Nature well—
Oh March, Come right upstairs with me—
I have so much to tell—

I got your Letter, and the Birds—
The Maples never knew that you were coming—
I declare - how Red their Faces grew—
But March, forgive me—
And all those Hills you left for me to Hue—
There was no Purple suitable—
You took it all with you—

Who knocks? That April—
Lock the Door—
I will not be pursued—
He stayed away a Year to call
When I am occupied—
But trifles look so trivial
As soon as you have come

That blame is just as dear as Praise
And Praise as mere as Blame—

This poem is in the public domain.

for Octavio


There's a book called
"A Dictionary of Angels."
No one has opened it in fifty years,
I know, because when I did,
The covers creaked, the pages
Crumbled. There I discovered

The angels were once as plentiful
As species of flies.
The sky at dusk
Used to be thick with them.
You had to wave both arms
Just to keep them away.

Now the sun is shining
Through the tall windows.
The library is a quiet place.
Angels and gods huddled
In dark unopened books.
The great secret lies
On some shelf Miss Jones
Passes every day on her rounds.

She's very tall, so she keeps
Her head tipped as if listening.
The books are whispering.
I hear nothing, but she does.

From Sixty Poem by Charles Simic. Copyright © 2008 by Charles Simic. Reprinted by permission of Harcourt Trade Publishers. All rights reserved.

Things got terribly ugly incredibly quickly 
Things got ugly embarrassingly quickly 
actually Things got ugly unbelievably quickly 
honestly Things got ugly seemingly infrequently 
initially Things got ugly ironically usually 
awfully carefully Things got ugly unsuccessfully 
occasionally Things got ugly mostly painstakingly 
quietly seemingly Things got ugly beautifully 
infrequently Things got ugly sadly especially 
frequently unfortunately Things got ugly 
increasingly obviously Things got ugly suddenly
embarrassingly forcefully Things got really ugly 
regularly truly quickly Things got really incredibly 
ugly Things will get less ugly inevitably hopefully 

Copyright © 2019 by Terrance Hayes. Used with the permission of the poet. 

This is my first memory:
A big room with heavy wooden tables that sat on a creaky
       wood floor
A line of green shades—bankers’ lights—down the center
Heavy oak chairs that were too low or maybe I was simply
       too short
              For me to sit in and read
So my first book was always big

In the foyer up four steps a semi-circle desk presided
To the left side the card catalogue
On the right newspapers draped over what looked like
       a quilt rack
Magazines face out from the wall

The welcoming smile of my librarian
The anticipation in my heart
All those books—another world—just waiting
At my fingertips.

"My First Memory (of Librarians)" from Acolytes by Nikki Giovanni. Copyright © 2007 by Nikki Giovanni. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

          How did we get to be old ladies—
          my grandmother's job—when we 
          were the long-leggèd girls?
	— Hilma Wolitzer

Instead of marrying the day after graduation,		
in spite of freezing on my father's arm as 				
here comes the bride struck up,
saying, I'm not sure I want to do this,

I should have taken that fellowship
to the University of Grenoble to examine 
the original manuscript 
of Stendhal's unfinished Lucien Leuwen, 

I, who had never been west of the Mississippi, 
should have crossed the ocean 
in third class on the Cunard White Star,	
the war just over, the Second World War 
 
when Kilroy was here, that innocent graffito,
two eyes and a nose draped over 
a fence line.  How could I go?
Passion had locked us together.

Sixty years my lover,
he says he would have waited.
He says he would have sat
where the steamship docked

till the last of the pursers
decamped, and I rushed back				
littering the runway with carbon paper . . .  
Why didn’t I go? It was fated. 

Marriage dizzied us. Hand over hand,
flesh against flesh for the final haul,	
we tugged our lifeline through limestone and sand,
lover and long-leggèd girl.

From Still to Mow by Maxine Kumin. Copyright © 2008 by Maxine Kumin. Reprinted by permission of W.W. Norton. All rights reserved.