February 29

For the leaplings, just for today,
let’s think in alternative fours.
Line winter’s final quarter
with diamonds, not squares.

This is no common year.
A short-changed month gets a little boost
to keep our hearts aligned
with the sun.

I know a couple of almost leap
year babies—both full-grown men,
56 not 14. They don’t count
the way you do in 1|4 time.

My father died during a leap year.
Bowie, Prince, Cohen during the next.

An extra exit sign flickers in the dark.

Gasket

What does not love a yellow wall
in an attic open to the possibility
of Northern Lights
drooping over the horizon
this late in winter?
What would it mean
to press down so hard
on the widening beam?

An aerie for a guardian angel,
her duende answers the door.
She loves how frightening
the darkness becomes,
the way her hands disappear
into the wayward cork oak bark.

Trip

The cartwheels have fallen off.
Her limbs propel her to risk
new maneuvers. A flashback
to somersaulting down a legendary hill.
She spits out dirt, grass, infamous feathers,
the sound of phantom guitars
colliding into a parallel color wheel as it turns over on itself

in a Connecticut spring sky.
A figure lets go of the man’s hand,
races toward the sun-drenched stair.

She always believed the ghost child
was a boy—not this whisper of a girl.
How could she know?

The Blasé Spell of February Snow

How come these apologies only come
in the shape of a conch shell,
never a horse?

Even without the explosion,
the blood would appear
as a rising sea

to create a halo
framing her lovely face—
her lovely dead body.

With a true camera in his hand,
he pans across the valley
looking for a way to enter

without disturbing
the canopy
of her death.

Let no more
ashes be tossed
into a false ocean.

Waves from a sound machine
cannot soothe him.
They had their bluffs,

sand, torches
illuminating a safe path
to a tiny boathouse.

A feather falls
from a sky
full of noisy crows.

The threshold cleared,
he’s awake now.
Memory is murder.

In this Loam

You taught me how
to wear black
no matter what—
knit cap, trench,
Chelsea boots,
a hint of ginger
along the collarbone,
the last word
hidden in
our rammed understory.

Blind Evidence

A cobweb of frayed cords,
slats chewed into jagged teeth piers
after another superstorm
nowhere near where
he lived and died.

He’s been gone 15 months.
It’s time to reclaim the view.
I keep whiskers he left behind
in a container beside the wooden box
that holds his ashes.