I cross the street and my skin falls off. Who walks to an abandoned lake? Who abandons lakes? I ask questions to evade personal statements. When you are skinless, you cannot bear to be more vulnerable. With skin, I would say I am in love with Love as in that old-time song crooners like to croon. With skin, I would wear elbow-length opera gloves of pearly satin. Protect my skin. Hide it. There is no skin like my skin. How I miss it — I miss it as I would a knitted bonnet, a pewter teaspoon to stir sugar into hot water. My great passion was my skin. The lover I loved. They don’t sell skin at Wal-Mart. And really, how could I, humanely, buy it? Would you ever give me your skin? This is a terrible world we live in. There are mistakes and batteries littering a junk drawer, where Mother would hide my house keys and Father would store his eyeballs. Do you know Puccini? Do you spill silk at the gorgeous onslaught of love, of Pinkerton’s lurking return? Butterfly had no skin either but you could not tell from the outer left balcony. As I lay in a bed of my dead skin, I dream of Butterfly and what she could have done instead: run away to this little room to lose her aching voice, to listen to the hourly ringing of bells that is really the souring birdsong of a child, skinned and laughing, a child that will never be hers.
Again a Solstice
It is not good to think
of everything as a mistake. I asked
for bacon in my sandwich, and then
I asked for more. Mistake.
I told you the truth about my scar:
I did not use a knife. I lied
about what he did to my faith
in loneliness. Both mistakes.
That there is always a you. Mistake.
Faith in loneliness, my mother proclaimed,
is faith in self. My instinct, a poor polaris.
Not a mistake is the blue boredom
of a summer lake. O mud, sun, and algae!
We swim in glittering murk.
I tread, you tread. There are children
testing the deep end, shriek and stroke,
the lifeguard perilously close to diving.
I tried diving once. I dove like a brick.
It was a mistake to ask the $30 prophet
for a $20 prophecy. A mistake to believe.
I was young and broke. I swam
in a stolen reservoir then, not even a lake.
Her prophesy: from my vagrant exertion
I'll die at 42. Our dog totters across the lake,
kicks the ripple. I tread, you tread.
What does it even mean to write a poem?
It means today
I'm correcting my mistakes.
It means I don't want to be lonely.