copyright © 2014 by Elizabeth Schultz
DANCING WITH THE STARS
You two were both so gorgeous,
a dahlia over Mama’s ear,
a carnation in Papa’s lapel.
Holding each other’s hands,
you showed me the shuffle,
one, two, Chattanooga-shoe,
you were one+one=one,
and I remember wrapping
myself around your collective
knees, but I couldn’t cut it,
as you kept tipping your twin
top hats to invisible audiences
and kept dancing all over
that apartment, and when I saw
you only had eyes for you,
I dissolved myself, posing
in perfect wistfulness by the door,
which I do still, counting time,
musing that someone, even
the postman, would see me
and take me home at last.
TEA FOR TWO
Tea steeping in the old pot
and a plate of biscotti.
Late afternoon and dusk
settling into the shrubs
outside the bay window and
behind the sofa. In this ritual
of small gestures—pouring,
sipping, crunching, we are
safe to venture beyond
the weather, the worn news.
We approach blood-letting,
the gnawing and shivering,
the violation behind lilac bushes.
Shadows thicken, and I move
to turn on the lights.
GIVING UP THE GHOST
For Ayako Matsui
Crossing continent, ocean,
time zone, I arrived breathless
in the labyrinthine city.
The raging sun was slipping
over the edge of darkness,
as I reached for you.
Lying snared in medical
by amulets of hope and love,
you were already escaping,
breathing deeply, eyes closed.
The complacent moon
displaced the sun. Squared
by the hospital window,
it was silent as you gave up
the ghost into its perfect sphere.
Now, years later,
in other lands, bracketed
by any pane, this moon
gives you up to me.
LEARNING TO LOVE
She disconnects the Security,
removes bolts from the doors,
cracks the windows, leaving
plenty of room for night to enter.
Wide-eyed, she watches a train
tunnel through the room, vanish
into the closet, whistle ricocheting
against the walls. Later, lightning
flashing through the blinds, slamming
shadows across the ceiling, shakes
her awake. Night rattles everything
until it sinks into itself, goes still,
steeping, sinking, its shadows
lapping against her.
She puts her ear against dreams,
and trusting night, lets strangers
enter and stretch out alongside her.
Our bodies are earth.
Our eyes may be sky-blue,
or brackish as woodland
pools, our ears opercula,
our blood briny. We are
mottled, pebbled landscapes,
with thickets of hair and
deltas of veins. Our brows
are beetled, our snouts craggy.
Our butts are buttes, and all
of us have caves and cracks.
We sprout cysts and scabs.
Our suppurating springs crust
over, our rivers flood their banks.
We have eruptions volcanic.
We are as polluted as the planet,
strong, lovely, fecund.
SPRING COMES LIKE DREAMS
No sudden throwing off the blanket
and leaping out into the day, spring
seems tentative, a tulip at a time,
comes like dreams, spilling over
into sleep, rouses me with images
surprising, yet familiar as a hand,
represses the swelling magnolia,
the frowzy wild plum, concentrates
the redbud into hard, bright knots,
so contrary, weighted with clouds,
weighted with rain, sloshes earth
and riff raff so boisterously down drains,
sets me loose outside the house
into gusts and expectations of rapture
I thought I’d reduced to recordings,
teases with memories of the way
her hair whispered across my face
as we lay among summer grasses,
taunts my long winter on every street
and bough with ruddy bulges, soft petals.
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