I’ve been cradling the heavy cat in the half-dark
For an hour 
She likes how I make her feel 
And I like her— 
I was mean to the dog 
And now he’s dead 
Well, not mean 
Cold in moments 
He could have used the warmth 
I could tell and still did nothing about it
And so here I am 
Paying— 
Which I am accustomed to 
And anyhow I am happy 
To pay for such horrors, such ill manners
Of my character 
Even if I do blame you for it— 
How can I empathize with anything 
When I can’t remember empathy 
And you are the only mountain 
For miles all around 
I’ve had to learn to be kind again 
To uncoil my tendrils into the light 
Sometimes I pretend you are not a person
But a stone (how could I love
people again, if I didn’t?) 
And I warn them: Little Ones, 
Don’t learn from stones
They are too still
They are too sharp
Sometimes in the moonlight 
They whisper terrible things

Related Poems

Marriage: A Daybook

From the window the river rinses
the dark. I twist
the wedding beads around my neck. I’ve lost
my ring, silver and antique, bought from the night market
in the other world across
the ocean, color of dull lead,
color of the pan I scrub and burn
in the sink.

*

Catullus wrote, I hate and love, and he wasn’t talking about marriage.

*

Not talking about the blacked-out
window crossed with hurricane tape,
like a movie screen, a page redacted,
your hand erasing a blackboard
with an eraser’s soft compliant body.

Designer Kisses

I'm glum about your sportive flesh in the empire of blab,
and the latest guy running his trendy tongue like a tantalizing surge
over your molars, how droll. Love by a graveyard is redundant,
but the skin is an obstacle course like Miami where we are
inescapably consigned: tourists keeping the views new.
What as yet we desire, our own fonts of adoration. By morning,
we're laid out like liquid timepieces, each other's exercise in perpetual
enchantment, for there is that beach in us that is untranslatable; footprints
abound. I understand: you're at a clothes rack at Saks
lifting a white linen blouse at tear's edge wondering.

Our Bed Is Also Green

Please speak to meonly of the present
            or if you must            bring up the past
bring up only thatwhich you and I
            don't share. I know            this is a selfish
thing to ask. Yes, as Ihave often
            remarked, shore lunch            at hanging rock
was lovely. Yourhair and mine
            stayed put. Later on            we didn't, as we
do now, pull it fromeach other's clothes
            as if for final proof            that we've been
sleeping witheach other. In the glorious
            picnics of the past            we simply knew
such things. The rockupon which
            we sat, ran beneath            the lake, and was
the same rock wewere both looking
            over to the other            side at. I almost
felt, believe me,as if we were
            two people. Person,            I nearly could
have said, hold on.Instead, I used
            the name we had            agreed upon. Not
your fault. A nameis useful, it helps
            with the blankness            I am sometimes
feeling in regardsto you. I apologize
            for saying this            out loud. You are not
the blanknessI am speaking
            of. Plug your thought            or daydream
into me, and theyor I will often
            fail to light. You are            beginning to see
what I mean aboutthe past, how I,
            despite my facility            with pliers, and eye
for detail, may notbe suitable. What was
            your name? I am            not kidding. What comes
will run us throughfrom the front, we
            pull our way            down its length
if only to see, at lastwhat has ahold
            of the spear-grip.            Therefore, the future,
as a topic, is sadlyalso out. Instead, let's
            cast the deep side            of the weedbed
together. The lakeis black, like slate
            we scrape across            with paddles toward
the weedtops,sticking up, like alien
            flags, above            the invisible
settlements, the castleyou've dropped
            your hooks            inside of. I love
how destructiveyou are with the fishes,
            so go ahead            and bring your war
against them, Ramona,against the duck,
            against time,            against any things
that swim. Our fiber-glass canoe is of
            burnt orange;            our shapely hooks
of shining gold;our giant rock, also
            somewhere in the lake            beneath us, is
the bottom, towardwhich the minnow,
            lip-hooked, dives            after the lead,
its weight a thingthe minnow seems
            to follow, as if            we sent it dropping
both for what we hadto give away and still
            we didn't want            the lake to have.