Blood in the Water
Don’t ruin this, she says,
driving fast past the bike repair
place where she could have
stopped to fix her bike,
fill the tires with enough
air so she could ride
along Shore Road with me
in the morning, for coffee,
an egg sandwich at a table
on the bay looking out
at the sun and lighthouse
where I used to sit, used-up
with loneliness, the ten year
ache of it. Don’t spoil it,
she repeats, meaning
the day, its perfect
light, its sun and beach,
the bay in which we floated
a purple shark sign
indicating dangerous marine life.
Be quiet and pretend
she implies, but
the truth stalks us
like a Great White, ready
at any moment
We learn to swim past
the eddying current,
blood in the water
clearing, as the fin slips
back into the deep.
Under the Autumn Sun
“Man and woman join to make one flesh,”
the guy I thought my friend informs me,
“So how can you be married?”
I want to say something in response,
but he turns ashen and walks away,
his mournful words diminuendo-ing—
I guess this is the modern world.
I remember it a week after our marriage,
when my wife approaches me,
holding chard against her breast,
in this peaceful autumn sun, though we know
soon the ravages of a hurricane
will scour us with hail and rain.
She’s been harvesting chard, tomatoes,
onions, a host of potatoes she raised
from soil I helped make from compost
we grew all winter.
She kisses me openly, her lips
sweet and fresh from tomatoes
plucked from our one flesh-joined garden.
Free as the Wind
Though past ninety, you escaped benign jail,
your term for the nursing home.
No one ever told you what to eat,
when to sleep, when to rise.
We met the summer after
both our husbands’ passings.
Wrapped in towels, we sat
in the cramped sweat lodge,
both naked, purging grief,
regrets, fear of the yet-to-come.
Fifteen years later, I see you
lift your body from the bed,
opening both arms to greet someone
from the other side. Goodbye, dear friend,
may we one day meet again.