At the bottom of the dresser drawer
Under a twist of bras and
Ankle socks, I found the
Liner she used to protect the wood —
Or was it to protect the clothes? —
I’m not sure. Shouldn’t adults
Really know this now?
But I don’t line my drawers with
Newspaper. I don’t even receive
One anymore. How else have I
Let her down, dropped the ball on
All the better, best and bygone Ways?
Well, no more heat-and-eat Salisbury steak ovals
Floating in gravy are served, so
I’ve achieved that. That and
Lifting her onto the portable toilet when
Her legs became deadweight. And I achieved
Ordering the hospital bed, making
Small talk with the lanky boy-man who
Constructed it in the living room one day,
Then came back a few days later to
Pack it away. The damn chia seeds. Still
Behind the instant oats in Dad’s cupboard!
Why didn’t I toss them out with the
Pile of not-fine-enough-to donate t-shirts?
Ann and I had that flash of certainty,
Sure the old news in the drawer would be
Ancient, with ads for powdered penny soap and
Photos of mustachioed men. Where were you in
1999? She must have been standing right here
At the drawer on Timberline,
Laying out the paper, washing her hands before
Touching the whites, thinking her thoughts
About what’s for dinner and
Is there an afterlife and where exactly is
The Friday card group.
I was far away.
It was the El Nino year, the year
I bought my shirtwaist house, and forgot to water
The coreopsis, and for the last time
Gas was 99 cents a gallon. Then,
fear shaped itself as loneliness,
Not as a leaking bag body that takes 30 days to
Empty, that sloughs off eating,
Then walking, then speech,
And all muscle control
Like peeling skin on a
Sunburned life. … Read on…I’ve Never Believed in Heaven
Stuck between then and now at Locust and Cherry, with
The truckers and the teachers passing.
Marble blocks scatter on the little
Hill and you squint in their glare.
You two know this road real well– so well you hardly
See the 24-hour pharmacy, the neon car wash.
None was there when this shed on the
Hill went up. When the family started providing.
Time slides past, snapshots inside a memory held
Weightless and you, both, dragging your feet.
You two. Determined to finish your tidy-up to-do
List, so you both can put this worry to rest.
On the low rise, at the intersection, the two of you, one
Balmy and plain old day.
I am in love with my girlfriend’s husband
Because last night when
She was inverted in downward dog
Her ponytail flipped and I saw
The best of her younger self,
The girl he spotted when they first met
Her all unpacked from her worries;
He, walking alone back from the
School drop-off this morning with his
Umbrella, his thoughts so loud they
Clamored over his head in a dance party yet
His body cut through the air like
And because one warrior girlfriend has
Worn her armor of joy and generosity
To cover the bruises, and
Leaps to block the pain and the
Insistent memories, and he
Pulls her back against him like
The softest cushion, again and
Again, soothing her and
Surprising her with his
Endurance race of love.
I am in love with my girlfriend’s
Husband who is lost right now and anxious
And a beastly wonder of
Sentiment, so he
Hangs onto her like a life preserver,
Which is his gift to her.
The husband I have not met I love anyway.
Those two cheeks pressing into each other
In the Facebook photo, the freckles against the
Beard, snapped as a favor to a friend
And shared. Smiles hang on them
Like Spanish moss across one wide
Live oak. The noise in their life
Retreats behind them:
Contentment fills the frame.
I am in love with my girlfriend’s
Husband, who holds his own dreams in
His pocket, like loose change, who
Works in the hours of the day that he doesn’t
Spend with her, yet works for her.
Sends her love texts too practical to be
Makes dinner. Washes the car.
Writes her a love song he
Sings out loud,
And see her the way
She wants to be seen. Takes her
In his arms and says to her–
All of her–
Yes. … Read on…My Girlfriend’s Husband
Will you meet me
At the end of
The day, to
Clear things up, to
Pour ourselves together
In a glass and
Melt a little?
One minute there was four of us
Together in the cold white room.
You cradled in daddy’s arms,
So foggy from the pain
Meds, but rumbling still
Then two vials of liquid into
Your leg and
You are gone.
He holds his hand on your
Breast as if to insist you
Stay in this place but
It doesn’t work.
The doctor nods and whispers
You are gone but, already
I heard it. The dead silence.
The ceiling comes down.
The doctor takes you from
Us and I see your
Tail hanging from the
No faith abides in
Anything beyond that
Where did you go?
The boy kept grabbing, kept putting his
Hands all over me and saying — one way or
Another: “mine,” and I didn’t have the
Words at first, nor then the steel, then
The will to stop him. I let it all
Roll downhill, the both of us
Tumbling over the earth and
Each other and he still grasping at
Whatever he could with I unable to
See the sense in it. And we skidded
Like Buttercup and Wesley
Over course dry grass into the
Last fold of the hillside, and that
Was the end of it all, the end of
Moving in any direction, of needing
Anything but to
Lie on our bruises, and
Gaze at clouds made
Whole by the wind until our
Breaths returned and I noticed the
Feel of his fingertips just barely
Against my own and I could then
Move toward him just enough
So he could hear me agree: