The Whale

Frankie has bad dreams
of dark things that have no edges
like blackened shower nozzles
of mold and mildew;
a closet in an empty house
where someone sways;
tall windows with peeling paint
the color of old teeth,
chewing on memories
of a fury sunrise.

She wonders why
these things haunt her,
as she trembles in the
rings of my eyes.
Maybe she’s a
dreamcatcher
for nightmares,
the kind that lurk behind
closed doors in rooms
made by men in a hurry.

Perhaps Frankie sees mine,
and takes them away.
Beneath the ocean
she becomes a whale,
and carries my nightmares
to waters at the edge
of the Earth,
where no boats are allowed,
and whales rarely swim.

Maybe that is why
she wakes up crying.

Jane Says

This city’s madness,
a tapestry of too much of it all.
There’s always someone or something
that drives a steak into my personal space:
an angry man in a black car honking;
a family walking four abreast on the sidewalk, slowly;
my neighbor vacuuming the concrete on her patio;
the lot across from me a construction zone of cats, gravel and a “dust control” truck.
Cement and traffic.
People and skyscrapers.
I just want to get away from it.
And yet I have lived in the country
Where the absence of annoyance
is a peaceable kingdom
that can be dulling,
like a drill to my temple,
boring,
until I’m lobotomized and desensitized.
Because it’s easier to be average
than to step outside.
So never mind,
this wayward thought
of leaving my jungle behind.
I think I’ll stay.

*

But if I left where should I go?
To the lands south of here, perhaps.
The broad avenues and cobblestone quarters of Buenos Aires,
where I’d amble among the vendors offering silver jewelry and cups of perfumed wine.
Or maybe to the ocean,
where I’d stand at the edge of a Caribbean beach washing my toes, the sun heavy on my shoulders.
My little dogs would wrestle nearby,
their fur faded and salty, littered with sand.
Scratching, always itchy.
But would I be satisfied?
I don’t know,
for I’m not sure what I’m looking for,
aside from these abstract concepts of happiness, knowledge, acceptance
and love.
I have thought of evaporating,
to escape the disappointment
of these things I don’t have,
or that I’ve lost.

*

I seek an authentic life,
in its most abstract sense,
like devouring an apple to its core and swallowing the seeds.
If I only eat the flesh,
I will only half know the apple.
Why eat around the hard and bitter parts?
The problem isn’t my city,
nor is another place the solution.
That’s the painful part,
which causes me to swell
with tears.
And yet, I can’t help but wonder,
if starting over is such a terrible thing.
Perhaps it’s out there after all,
my home.
my family,
myself.
I can’t know the answer.
I can only hope.

The Almanac

I saw two geese flying north above the black rooftops, honking like angry drivers at the throat of the palisades.

“Winter is near! Leave now before it swallows you whole.”

I watch them go and return to the book by the bearded man who proclaims there are millions of suns left.

But the geese are a memory house, and I set the book aside.

Then I think of winter, of the snow and the sweat that clings between my sweatshirt and skin as I shovel to the edge of the sidewalk, where it will turn black with fallen smog.

I recall the table fire in my living room, the spiced wine in the slow cooker, and the smell of musty hats and scarves that have rarely been washed laying rumpled in the plastic drawers.

I consider the Scottish cap that sits in the bottom of my hamper – the one that I said I would dry clean when you died.

This is only the second winter since you’ve been gone, and it still smells like you.

I wonder how harsh this winter will be if the geese are leaving this early.

What do they know anyway?

Nothing, I decide.