A woman walks by the bench I’m sitting on
with her dog that looks part Lab, part Buick,
stops and asks if I would like to dance.
I smile, tell her of course I do. We decide
on a waltz that she begins to hum.

We spin and sway across the street in between
parked cars and I can tell she realizes
she chose a man who understands the rhythm
of sand, the boundaries of thought. We glide
and Fred and Ginger might come to mind or
a breeze filled with the scent of flowers of your choice.
Coffee stops flowing as a waitress stares out the window
of a diner while I lead my partner back across the street.

When we come to the end of our dance,
we compliment each other and to repay the favor
I tell her to be careful since the world comes to an end
three blocks to the east of where we stand. Then
I remind her as long as there is a ’59 Cadillac parked
somewhere in a backyard between here and Boise
she will dance again.

As she leaves content with her dog, its tail wagging
like gossip, I am convinced now more than ever
that I once held hundreds of roses in my hands
the first time I cut open a pomegranate.

More by Kevin Pilkington

Long as a Quart of Milk

Once I undressed a tree,
got a splinter in my thumb
and decided that was it
for one night stands.

The woman next door who
dresses in clothes that make her
look like the English countryside
keeps yelling at her son
about being spoiled.

I wish I could help him,
tell her of course he’s spoiled
it’s hot out so she should keep
him in a room with the a.c. on.
It would keep him fresh longer
or at least as long as a quart of milk.

I rent a small studio in the tenement building
next door that looks like Lou Reed.
I’ve lived here for awhile and have no plans
of moving. There really isn’t any point now
that I know this neighborhood so well I can
recite any street by heart to anyone
who will listen.

Related Poems

Slow Waltz Through Inflatable Landscape

At the time of his seeing a hole opened—a pocket opened—
and left a space. A string of numbers plummeted 
through it. They were cold numbers. 
They were pearls.

And though they were cold the light they cast was warm,
and though they were pearls he thought they were eyes.
They blinked. He blinked back.
Anything that blinks

must be friendly, he thought, until he saw the code
—a string of numbers—carved into their sides
and grew afraid. He tried to close
the space

but it was no longer his own. He tried to close his eyes
but they were no longer his. He tried to close 
his mouth, his hands, his ears
but they were no longer

his, were never his to begin with: this was the time of his seeing.
The world opened. A line began. A tree grew above him
and he thanked it. A sun dawned over the line
and he thanked it.

A building unfolded abruptly and blocked the sun
and he put his hand on its side and thanked it
for the shade, he put his hand
on the sidewalk

and gave thanks to the cement—it was cool and wet and 
took the shape of his hand into it—he put his eyes
at the feet of a woman
and she lifted them,

to her own, and he thanked her, from the inside, and she understood.
Wires swirled above him, straightened out along an avenue
and the lights came on. One moon rose.
A second moon

rose on the windshield of a car and he thanked them both.
This was the time of his seeing. This was the time.
An electric green beetle shuttled out
of the darkness

and landed on his forearm, pulsing, he didn't remove it.
It seemed relieved. Some things work very hard
to leave the ground. Somewhere an infant
called out, sharply,

was comforted into silence. The deep note of an owl opened a tunnel 
in the air. He was growing tired. He didn’t want to stop. 
The world opened. 
A line began.

It traveled out ahead of him and returned, tracing a wave,
white foam gathering, gathering the moonlight,
black water rising into a wall
and he held up his hand:

the wall froze, trembling, the head of a seal
poked through, looked around, withdrew,
he liked the way its whiskers
bent forward

as it withdrew and he liked the way his hand had stopped a wave
so he thanked his hand and moved on,
into the outskirts, the taste
of salt on his tongue,

the taste of brine, it made him thirsty although he had no thirst.
This was the time of his seeing. This was the time.
And the skeletal shadow of a radio tower
loomed to the right of him,

creaking, a red gleam, then nothing, he thought he heard music
passing through him and he was right: 
he was humming something
from a song, 

but he couldn't remember the words, which was fine, 
they were sentimental anyway so he 
thanked the radio tower
and kept moving,

the road turning to gravel, the gravel turning to dust,
the ditches sang with frogs, the ditches were silent,
a pair of yellow eyes waited for him
to pass and so he passed,

calmly, since the beetle was with him, trying to refold its wings,
and the tree was with him, unfolding its leaves,
and a man was with him, walking at his side
—he didn't need to ask

who he was, so he didn't, but in the corner of his eye
he caught a glimpse: he seemed familiar,
he looked like him
and he was,

although a string of numbers was carved into his side.
He asked if he could touch them and he said Yes,
touch them. They were cold numbers.
They were pearls.

He asked if he could kiss him and he said Yes, kiss me, and so he did.
It was a strange kiss. It was a beautiful kiss.
It seemed to last a long time.
It seemed to last a lifetime.