Holding hands on a pier
where a river used to be,
we marvel how the moonlight
reflects on the sand,
a color that hasn’t been named yet.
We decide on silver.
After we leave,
I slip a poem in your pocket.
It's written like a balloon
twisted into the shape of an animal.
I think it’s a tiger,
but you call it a dog.
The cottonwoods release white tufts
that stick to your hair.
I imagine that you are the boy in the tree house
that I loved when I was eight.
At the end of your street,
where it dead-ends at the zoo,
we look for animals through the fence,
and are instead astonished
to see birds fly from my fists.
I keep you in the back of my throat
like words I used to know,
or like the scent of chemical solvent
and cigarette smoke,
when I helped you
rebuild the engine,
cleaning bolts in the sink
in brown liquid like lung water.
I held my breath then,
turning my head towards the door.
Now I breathe into my hands
to refresh my memory,
inhaling air trapped in warm palms,
blowing on glass again
cutting the shape of your face into the frost,
erasing it with my breath,
like I did when my hot fingers
doodled stick figures of a girl and boy
on the passenger window
you installed so I would stay warm
that April, riding next to you,
in a snow storm, driving
through Flagstaff to Vegas
without a heater or windshield wipers.
Baby, my love for you is a lopsided cart,
broken down Ford, this old '54
that got us there and back,
but I’m still lost on the side of the road,
thumb out, hoping,
trying to glue my wheels back together,
digging in the dirt for every piece I’ve lost,
blowing on my hands again for warmth.
Holding hands on a pier
She spent the summer after high school
climbing through his window, its frame
dividing her into a pair of legs, outstretched
like skinny wings, one hooking
through like the letter L, the other
pushing out of the flowerbed, its foot
a naked arch amongst the tulips, whose stems
grew sideways beneath her feet.
Whose chipped lip his whiskers tickle,
sits lonely on the shelf or dirty in the sink,
day dreaming about warming his hands
and the intimate design of his greasy fingerprints.
She wonders what if feels like to be Cigarette,
who informs his breath and visits the cavern of his lungs.
How romantic to be ashes in the bottom of a broken cup.
Tea Cup has been waiting for him to come home
and touch her with his soapy hands again.
It’s crowded on the counter and she is feeling jealous
of Fork and Spoon and the way he looks at Plate.
She wishes she could be sweet as Pie,
then he would take her like Sugar in his tea
and notice her before she disappears completely.
Struggling with the thick glass door at 8th and Silver
you hear a girl's voice behind you say,
“Shit's heavy huh?”
Thick, sweet and familiar, a from-the-cradle voice.
Like warm caramel on a sundae.
Like summer sweat and sunflowers.
Like sticky bud and cut offs, mud and a white tank top.
Like older cousins. Like Woodstock '94
and the girl in the picture off the album jacket
who you worshipped
because she was 16 and you were 8 and she had boobs
and blonde hair and a beautiful slouch, her shoulders
curving into the shelf of her clavicle
making a half moon of her body.
A grunge baby-doll-type goddess sitting stoned
with flowers in her hair
and you were some shy kid on a ranch,
and everyone in the world was watching MTV but you.
When you turned around she was grown,
frail and bold in big sunglasses,
coke skinny and smoky ordering a bag of sweets.
You admired her anyway,
the syrupy slur of her words
and the weight of her wonderful slouch, her shoulders
still bending into herself like a hug,
like the mouth of a smiley face.