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Margaret Ross

Margaret Ross is the author of A Timeshare (Omnidawn Publishing, 2015). She is a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and lives in Berkeley, California.

By This Poet

2

Saturday

It was, it was explained to me,
a holiday to enter spring
while honoring the dead
and so its celebration was

a picnic in a cemetery. Flowers
and fruit and fish
cooked as her father liked
and a kind of pastry

that had been her uncle’s
nickname. Her aunt was
bringing paper iPhones, purses
and a little villa just for fun

to burn. I passed carts
selling them as I walked up
the slope behind the city
hospital. A child

climbed a parked car
shouting that he was
a horse. I took
a picture and the colors

on screen looked richer, less
treacherous. Downhill
a stadium surrounded
by white trailers. Underwear

hung from the clotheslines.
I took a picture of myself
but I did not appear
the person that I was.

The picnic would be
nearly done. She’d said
they’d leave behind
chrysanthemums

made of cloth to last
and scented so they smelled
not like chrysanthemums
but like a woman.
 

Socks

The socks came in a pack of five.
What is the most boring subject
possible? Translucent blue
with punctures pierced to shape
a star around the ankle.
I carried them along the aisles
as if I needed them. I fingered
lacquered dishes and the rubber heads
of mallets, crystal trinkets
stitched to underwear.
Wherever you go, this buffering.
A dull hour. All that time
I could have touched you and didn’t
or did absentminded, getting in
or out of bed or trying to reach
something behind you.
I didn’t need anything
I could buy. I bought the socks
and a slatted spoon I haven’t used.
Blue interrupted by the living points
of constellated skin. I’ve been
looking for a long time
at the stretch of table where you had
your hand. I am afraid
to touch it. Love, all I’ve ever
seen is things in airless dense
configuration and no transparency.