1993

We were sixteen, speeding
down a narrow country lane
I told you to watch for police
to which you asked:
“where could a cop hide
on a road like this?”

I said the first thing
that came to mind:
–“my pocket!”–
and from that moment
the cop in my pocket
became our inside joke

I’m laughing about it now
on this starless night
wondering where you are
and whether you remember
the road, ever winding
vanishing in the rear-view

1985

Sure, I cried
that day in 1985
when my parents sold
our yellow station wagon
I used to lie in the back
returning from grandma Mary’s
watching streetlights coalesce
into a single beam of light–
warp speed, transporting me
through nebulae and black holes
to distant, hidden planets
I no longer know how to find

driving to school

a pale beauty has risen
this winter morning
the white-yellow sun
blanketed by blue clouds

along the road, the river
has captured the scene
in wide brush strokes
immense with stillness

our car rushes, ever forward
as you complete equations
and I compose poems
together in the silence

take my hands

take my words
untie them like balloons
pinch the narrow ends
let the hot, wet air
come wooshing out
until the blubbering
and screeching subside

take my hands
unfurl them like sails
raise them, billowed
by fierce compassion
fill them with white light
borne across the dark sea
press them into service

when beauty dies

every so many years, it seems
as though beauty must die
like November leaves
pierced by the cold
pummeled by the wind
abandoned to moldering mud

while the colors bleed away
our first instinct is rescue
as if we could gather them up
in our careful arms
and paste them, gently
back upon their branches

let them go, my friend
scatter them to the earth
where they may become soil–
we must grieve in burial
endure the empty sting
and wait, patiently, for spring

foxes

my sister used to fear
that a slender fox
would scale our house
creep through the window
on a moonless night, pause–
then pounce in the startled silence
to gobble her up

utterly false, of course
foxes, orange and gorged
walk right through the damn door
brash, in broad daylight
clutching an invitation
claws retracted, arm extended
ready to make a deal

bobbing for apples

my daughter is describing India
the contours of its shoreline
and just like that I’m off
to the backwaters of my brain
searching for the capital
to impress her

there, forgotten facts float
like waxy apples, resisting
my efforts to retrieve them
thrashing in the dark
scattering this way & that
until, triumphantly– New Delhi!

but she has long moved on
recounted the jewels of her day
in my soaking absence
and, though proffering a smile
for my parlor trick–
she has never much cared for apples