You meet someone and inside of them
you know there swells
a small country brimming
with steel and beasts of labor.
You love the country
and so you fear it.
Its flora fascinates you.
You wish to visit, though
you worry you won’t
wear the right clothes, that you'll fail
assure the clerk in the flower
shop you aren’t a thief.
They’re only roses. They remind you
of the one you love.
Even with your eyes closed
in your own mouth you’d know
Copyright © 2018 by David Welch. Used with the permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Quarterly West Issue 94.
—For Leia and Graham
Before he is sick, he surfs the Pacific.
After he is sick, his faint body is pulled
from the water just in time to know
something is expanding. Leia goes over.
Just as friends, she says.
She sleeps in his bed, makes coffee,
tackles the wild zinnias of the Santa Barbara
hills, bends the flora to her spells.
The brain controls everything
except his nearly lifeless foot
moving to a Steely Dan cover.
All his orchids are crooked in the greenhouse
and the cats are missing. Too many coyotes,
he once said. When he was well,
everything survived. The orchids grew
erect, the coyotes were spineless, and Leia
stitched things together on her porch
exactly half a mile from the ocean.
Does anyone ever die in California,
I wonder. Leia enshrines him with eucalyptus
and Neruda, calls us, sleeps fetal now in LA.
You want to hear a love story, someone says.
Meaning them. Meaning this thing,
not quite knowable to us, her hand
on his laughing foot, the only part still alive,
it seems, the contract of their intimacy
that is not quite love, not quite
anything we’ve seen or can name.
Copyright © 2017 Megan Fernandes. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Winter 2017.
On my desk is a photograph of you taken by the woman who loved you then. In some photos her shadow falls in the foreground. In this one, her body is not that far from yours. Did you hold your head that way because she loved it? She is not invisible, not my enemy, nor even the past. I think I love the things she loved. Of all your old photographs, I wanted this one for its becoming. I think you were starting to turn your head a little, your eyes looking slightly to the side. Was this the beginning of leaving?
From So Much Things To Say: 100 Calabash Poets. Copyright © 2010 by Gabeba Baderoon. Used with permisson of Calabash International Literary Trust and the author.
—Is where space ends called death or infinity? Pablo Neruda, The Book of Questions A mere eyelid’s distance between you and me. It took us a long time to discover the number zero. John’s brother is afraid to go outside. He claims he knows the meaning of zero. I want to kiss you. A mathematician once told me you can add infinity to infinity. There is a zero vector, which starts and ends at the same place, its force and movement impossible to record with rays or maps or words. It intersects yet runs parallel with all others. A young man I know wants me to prove the zero vector exists. I tell him I can't, but nothing in my world makes sense without it.
Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.