Anniversary

Outside, an abandoned mattress sags with rain
and the driveway turns all sludge when I remember
I could’ve died eight years ago, in a bed
smaller than the one I share with a new lover
who just this morning found another grey hair in my afro,
and before resettling the wiry curl with the others,
kissed the freckle on my forehead.
I admit, I don’t know a love that doesn’t
destroy. Last night while we slept,
a mouse drowned in the rice pot
I left soaking in the sink. I tried
to make a metaphor out of this, the way
he took the mouse to the edge of the lake in the yard,
released it to a deeper grave. It was
an anniversary, just my lover
taking a dead thing away, taking it
somewhere I couldn’t see.

Related Poems

Erstling

Death is a beige Mercedes sedan.

I am five and riding
In the back,

Eating small white chocolates,
My long, thin body

Along the butter-
Soft red leather seat.

What I want is to become

What I was
Before the accident.

You think
I’m a rumor.

I move from one world
To the next

Living inside a mink
Lined winter,

           God’s child-
           Like voice

           Singing quietly
           Inside me.

XI

One morning the spirit of my lover’s uncle returned
there was no fanfare no terror only a blue silhouette

translucent above our bed growing dim
I was the sole witness to this specter quiet

as the rising sun waking overhead I awakened
cold to see an Aegean blue figure hovering bedside

through his gaze and mustachioed grin
on the other side of his face a dazzling tremolo

of morning light streamed into this darkened space
and later that evening as we moved

through the neighborhood streets dead with aging trees
frozen sidewalks led us freely into the moonlight ahead

All the Trees of the Field Shall Clap Their Hands

Josefa Segovia was tried, convicted & hanged on July 5, 1851, in Downieville, California, for killing an Anglo miner, a man who the day before had assaulted her.

Are the knees & elbows 

     the first knots  
 
                     the dead untie?
 
       I swing from a rope
 
                     lashed
 
       to a beam. Some men
 
along the Yuba river
 
               toss coins
 
         into the doubling water.
 
                   Visible skin.
 
            Memorable hair.
 
     Imagine: coal, plow,
 
                     rust, century.
 
                 All layers
 
         of the same palabra.
 
                                       Once
I mistook a peach pit
 
               on a white dish
 
         for a thumbprint.
 
   Wolf counselor.
 
                       Reaper.
 
             Small rock.
 
   The knot just under
 
       my right ear
 
whispers God is gracious,
 
             God will

increase. The soul,
 
                   like semen,

       escapes
 
the body
 
         swiftly.