The Cruelest

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.

She’s So Grounded

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

(or steal).

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.

Your New Oread

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.”