The Changing Coat

When I wake up, heart
up my throat, a fear taste—
getting ready for 
the changing skin.

Your hat on the knob
of the banister, tilted.
You ask, why are you
holding up your head

with your hand? I'm tired,
stripped down, maybe 
I passed one of my deaths
getting ready for

the changing skin.
Sometimes, love, I can be
your sister, dead,
come to you in her

changing skin—tortoise
shell eyes, through gravel
and moss. And you can be
my brother, dead, saying:

I never meant to hurt anyone.
We are looking across
the table. It's a field,
long, spread out, pale,

the ground's icy. We're wearing
our new coats and we've passed
one or more of our deaths
along the way. There's no

afterlife, it's the same, the
same life, and when 
we remember that we pull
close our changing coats,

we tilt toward each other,
the ground is softer
than I thought,
our foreheads touch.


river with a valley so shallow it is measured
in inches” says McKibben
and no longer           Ever           but shrinking,
this marsh-wealth in a buzz
of conversing, wing flaps and wind, ringed
by housing, drained by canals,
an expanse thick with mangroves, orchids,
birds erupting out of grasses—
“so flat that a broad sheet of water flows slowly
across it on the way to the sea”—
algae, floating lilies, water purified
and sent into
the dreamscape—            	Heaven’s
beneath us, what I look down into,
bubbling mud, permeable skin—
Driving here, miles
across paved-over space
till what’s missing gathers—
jaw open in the sun,
wings explaining—
What can’t be seen is more
than all of this         Strokes
of green blades          swells of nothing—
we’re            	Ever
latched to each other, burning

Related Poems

Change in the Grove of Chickadees

Happy for nothing, we could be with no dinner to cook.

Absence is gigantic in our heads and houses.

We’re old and it’s bold to say so standing at the kitchen counter with the flashing red things.

The clock says midnight and we say yes.

When we go out, time always pays.

We spike our heads with copper ions and picnic with the breast explorers.

We’re riding the earth.

Non-motion is impossible.