with your fine face and its sharp bones
on long neck with graceful holdings,
you did not starve yourself for a figure like that.
you said yourself
that these orphans are your own,
but you, their mother,
did not commit the act that formed them
layer by layer, tissue by organ in womb-home,
nor did you feed them with your own food, bite by bite
from mouth through cord to widening stomach,
nor did you birth them,
but you know their secrets
and caress their foreheads
and mouthfuls of your meals have found themselves
in their porridge bowls.
Gorgeous woman, you are willowy not by vanity
but by love that cannot be measured
in that pressing tongue called hunger.
In the heat of the summer
In the heat of summer,
Imagine the winter.
Tear down the green leaves with your eyes,
and gather the flowers in the gardens.
Bundle them in the wreath section of department stores
and wilt them, scentless, in hot houses.
Twist every hose's spigot with your mind
so every sprinkler in every lush yard
putters out and turns the grass a fine, dry brown.
Empty the beaches of vacationers and grunge up
the new sheets of those creaky shore motels. Let time
take a long nap in their beds and turn their laundry sallow.
Must will overtake the pillows, and ice will hang
like bats that slumber in the radiators through great blizzards.
Let your sunned skin remember the cold time first,
the dryness, the paleness that mirrors the snowfall,
Listen and your pores will speak out the tales
they recall each winter, stories of strolls
along paths as untrodden as they were before
the Lewises and Clarks branded them into the earth,
sagas of lanterns and lights of old like just born stars
and the legends etched in the frostbite
of travelers’ skins. Let yourself feel it.
The numbness in the strangest parts
of yourself—the edges of your feet,
your sternum. Feel it. The scratching
of wool, of another’s cracked mouth,
of the last colored bird’s feet on the cusp
of a high branch in a white birch. Feel it
as if that barkless tree were your body,
and that feathered creature were alighting
on your fingers. Rest your heavy breathing
along with heartbeat in his tired wings. Release him.
Look down at your hands now. They are gloved. Mittened.
Your knuckles are frozen but your palms are warm,
Wrapped around a cocoa. Smell the comfort food.
Your favorite soup. Hunks of bread, torn not sliced,
Fresh and delicious from the oven of someone you love
and know and trust who bakes things wonderfully.
There's a radio. In your vehicle, in your kitchen,
in the kitchen of your neighbor. It is not playing
Christmas songs. It plays a violin. Pardon,
The violin is playing the radio. The candlelight
is waltzing with a part of itself
that seems to have wandered off its wick,
through the pane, and out into the snowdrift.
Come and let us gather up in arms ourselves
by the light of the raindrops
as branches of wiry trees gather finches
their yellow patches fraying
against their fingertips This mustard sweater belongs
to the candles and a woman who loved to waltz
in the moonlight by her kitchen sink
nesting her chin in the shoulder of her only&true
and now it is bathing my shoulders in sureness, take
this wrist along your neck and spend a song
with a moment of me your cheekbone on mine
this rain is a mantle at the window