And what will you do when your doubt
wakes you in the middle of the night—
you’re sleeping off a double-shift—
and you must wrestle it to earth,
as you wrestled all day
the machinery of your life,
forcing the embodiment of all
you hold holy to say uncle.
You have beaten me,
your doubt may soon whisper,
in a plea to let it, finally sleep.
But there is the sun slipping
from a forest of clouds.
The angel in your hands
has become a pillow,
the day a bright stone.
Bayside, the water sluices in.
A clump of seaweed, frilled and green
as a woman’s scarf washes ashore
in shallow furrows, as if from a recent wreck.
(Here you’ll think only of that neck,
and how its drowning undid fashionable knots,
a daughter’s neck, no doubt, taken to sea
with a good mother’s fair warning).
The lighthouse tolls, its call companion
to the ceaseless thrum of water at ocean’s end.
You’d note the ancient pilings that list off-shore,
Their salt-bleached selves useless succor for the stranded.
No one has lived here forever.
They walk so far along the beach they disappear,
but not before they leave their shoes in the sea wall’s shade
so certain are they of return.
Dear life, dear earth, dear season
of snow. Dear willow branch
turning in wind. Dear song.
Dear rain scouring the plain.
Dear comet dust sprinkling
its trail in black sky. Dear
skin unfolding like twin
rose petals. Dear owl-echo
moaning through night. Dear
three-chambered hawk heart
falling into dawn. Dear
arrow of desire taking aim
at the body. Dear cold.
Dear breath. Dear light
piercing the sea with
knives of gold.
Salcajá, Lanquin, Purulhá:
the places we made love.
I’ll hold them in my hands like seeds all winter
and in the spring, I’ll plant them
in my garden.
When they’ve grown,
I’ll cut their leaves and dry them
and boil them in a tea
I’ll offer you across the night.
You’ll take a sip, I hope,
before giving yourself
to him or sleep.
learn at very young ages
that outer beauty is the water-
oasis in the desert they crave.
They are taught
to smile in plaster of Paris,
hypocrites behind closed doors.
They cut themselves in secret, starve
Each young lady
and poise, accepts her place
below male fantasies,
above the unsightly.
They learn to heave aside the weak, to shun the strong
and not to trust anyone,
in a world of facades,
and hair spray.