It's a day when all the dogs of all the borrowed houses are angel footing down the hard hardwood of middle-America's newly loaned-up renovated kitchen floors, and the world's nicest pie I know is somewhere waiting for the right time to offer itself to the wayward and the word-weary. How come the road goes coast to coast and never just dumps us in the water, clean and come clean, like a fish slipped out of the national net of "longing for joy." How come it doesn't? Once, on a road trip through the country, a waitress walked in the train's diner car and swished her non-aproned end and said, "Hot stuff and food too." My family still says it, when the food is hot, and the mood is good inside the open windows. I'd like to wear an apron for you and come over with non-church sanctioned knee-highs and the prettiest pie of birds and ocean water and grief. I'd like to be younger when I do this, like the country before Mr. Meriwether rowed the river and then let the country fill him up till it killed him hard by his own hand. I'd like to be that dog they took with them, large and dark and silent and un-blamable. Or I'd like to be Emily Dickinson's dog, Carlo, and go on loving the rare un-loveable puzzle of woman and human and mind. But, I bet I'm more the house beagle and the howl and the obedient eyes of everyone wanting to make their own kind of America, but still be America, too. The road is long and all the dogs don't care too much about roadside concrete history and postcards of state treasures, they just want their head out the window, and the speeding air to make them feel faster and younger, and newer than all the dogs that went before them, they want to be your only dog, your best-loved dog, for this good dog of today to be the only beast that matters.
Sharks in the Rivers
We'll say unbelievable things to each other in the early morning— our blue coming up from our roots, our water rising in our extraordinary limbs. All night I dreamt of bonfires and burn piles and ghosts of men, and spirits behind those birds of flame. I cannot tell anymore when a door opens or closes, I can only hear the frame saying, Walk through. It is a short walkway— into another bedroom. Consider the handle. Consider the key. I say to a friend, how scared I am of sharks. How I thought I saw them in the creek across from my street. I once watched for them, holding a bundle of rattlesnake grass in my hand, shaking like a weak-leaf girl. She sends me an article from a recent National Geographic that says, Sharks bite fewer people each year than New Yorkers do, according to Health Department records. Then she sends me on my way. Into the City of Sharks. Through another doorway, I walk to the East River saying, Sharks are people too. Sharks are people too. Sharks are people too. I write all the things I need on the bottom of my tennis shoes. I say, Let's walk together. The sun behind me is like a fire. Tiny flames in the river's ripples. I say something to God, but he's not a living thing, so I say it to the river, I say, I want to walk through this doorway But without all those ghosts on the edge, I want them to stay here. I want them to go on without me. I want them to burn in the water.