A COVID vaccine hangover. Death
of an elder Minnesota statesperson.
Not one, not two, but three
It might rain. It might even—you know.
“Sometimes it snows in April.” Prince knew.
Now he’s gone five years.
Yesterday I saw a great blue heron
perched on a dead tree branch
extended over the pond. Red-winged
blackbirds gathered around as if readying
to mob, then thought better of it.
The cherry saplings in Loring Park
hold their blossoms all week.
a thief she’ll steal
your words before they leave
your mouth. She’ll hijack your thoughts just
There she goes with
a cluster in her fist.
She’s ready to drop them in a
remedy she will drink in the
the next morning,
she’ll discover a new
raison d’être as she swipes a
own words scrawled on
a page in a yellow
book she pulls off the shelf, covered
to keep the light,
then bees. Now he just keeps
me up nights wondering how to
No more April 11, 1993.
No more muscle relaxants,
no more Xanax pills
in her purse. No more purse.
No more bottle to drain
of anything sweet or strong.
No more friends holding.
No more dangerous obsession
fueling her days and nights.
No more strung out on some face.
No more dead-end wedding anniversaries.
No more Good Friday sadness.
No more Easter NDE.
No more immediate exit plan to enact.
No more denial: I just wanted to write
one good line you couldn’t forget.
No lightning strike can touch her.
She would never pursue poetry
as a profession.
Her wings may rust from disuse.
Salt on her upper lip doesn’t mean
she swam with golden sweepers
to steal light.
Does the punishment fit the crime?
From a second story window, she watches
her duende and guardian angel
dance in the alley
during a thunderstorm.
She’s forgotten what it feels like
to touch the clouds.
She would not ask you
to get a face tattoo
on your turned cheek,
or the other side
of that Airstream
you keep threatening to buy
When she says she can’t drive,
she means it.
And still spokes are her favorite part
of the wheel.
She wouldn’t train a creeper
to climb a wall.
And still the Boston ivy
that slashed her screen
before dying doesn’t disturb her.
It’s not if—it’s when
she will eat dirt again.
She knows how to whirl
her way down a hill, up
the next till she reaches the sea
where she will go to whirl
her way underwater to your
favorite hiding place. Pointed
remarks about home in the pines
cannot muffle the splash
she makes as she dislodges your
golden trident. What great
waves she makes miles from the pines
you used to climb. High tide on
the way. I remember our
skinny dipping excursions off those rocks
into that waterfall. We would hurl
ourselves into the cold pond, your
hand holding mine tight. Your tossed green
shirt flapping overhead. I’m still not over
it. As if there really were an us
before she was born. Someone cover
my eyes, so I can’t see how you wielded us
like a weapon against time. With
or without fear, she swims out far, your
dolphins beside her. It’s chlorinated pools
where she would drown. Of
course, I know you built the dock with fir.
Thanks to Gwendolyn Brooks, Terrance Hayes, and last Sunday’s New York Times At Home section for refreshing my memory of the golden shovel poetic form. This poem gets its final word for each line from H.D.’s wonderful poem “Oread.”