Perhaps I hold people to impossible ideals, I tell them, something is wrong with your personality, (you're a drinker, you're too dependent, or I think you have a mother/son fixation). This is usually followed by passionate lovemaking, one good long and very well meaning embrace, and then I'm out the door. In daylight, I'll tip my sunglasses forward, buy a cup of tea and think of the good I've done for the world, how satisfying it feels to give a man something to contemplate. The heart is a whittled twig. No, that is not the right image, so I drop the heart in a pile of wood and light that massive text on fire. I walk the streets of Brooklyn looking at this storefront and that, buy a pair of shoes I can't afford, pumps from London, pointed at the tip and heartbreakingly high, hear my new heels clicking, crushing the legs of my shadow. The woman who wears these shoes will be a warrior, will not think about how wrong she is, how her calculations look like the face of a clock with hands ticking with each terrorizing minute. She will for an instant feel so much for the man, she left him lying in his bed softly weeping. He whispers something to himself like bitch, witch, cold hearted ______, but he'll think back to the day at the promenade when there was no one there but the two of them, the entire city falling away into a thin film of yellow and then black, and how she squeezed his hand, kissed him on his wrist which bore a beautifully healed scar, he will love her between instances of cursing her name. She will have long fallen asleep in her own bed, a thin nude with shoes like stilts, shoes squeezing the blood out of her feet, and in her sleep she rises above a disappearing city, her head touching a remote heaven, though below her, closer to the ground, she feels an ache at the bottom.
My Father. A Tree.
Today, longing for my father,
I saw a solitary bleached owl skim
the dark grasses. It swept so low
to the ground it might have buried itself.
I did not know my father so how could I
be lonely for that guardian?
When I was a newborn, I didn’t let
my father hold me. I cried in his presence
till my mother came. My father would shrug,
lean into his high backed chair, to read the paper,
to smoke his pipe while he heard his wife
sing to his only daughter.
In the woods, I summon him
and my eyes fool me as a dark haired
jay shifts a twig, or a stone rolls
into the creek. I think I hear his footsteps
on the path, but it is only the oak
hip twitching to the afternoon’s cold wind.
When I was born, he must have felt
the rupture in his chest, dark matter funneling
through his veins, and he must have known
he would not be here for the rest but he ushered
me into that brightly lit room, the earth
with all its lumen.
Father, I know you are here,
the only place you must be,
where the heavy branches
lean into bright air.
I put down my sack to eat everything
I have carried with me. When I am done,
the ants come swarming in to take
the last of it, to cleanse the earth
of abundance and discard.
Walking in these woods, I believe
that tall shadows and shifts of light
mean that something is at work beyond me.
Midway home and the redwood
are letting go their furious scent,
where you are the tree left standing
and I am this frozen salt flat,
hemisphere of crushed snow.