Figurehead Off the Prow

She could return to the man
who dances with praying
mantises. Or, to the water—colder

on the second day. Or,
another man

she hasn’t spoken to
in over 20 years. She sees him—does he
see her? She imagines

how she might reinvent
his gaze. How he would look

underwater when the ocean
has calmed. Or, what he’d do
if a fox started following him.

Now she doesn’t even know
which man she means.

It’s all a wild ride
that begins in a dinghy
her uncle named after her.

Don’t Take a Souvenir Cinquain

Flashing
red and white light
above wild clay cliffs
will fade to memory without
rescue.

In Six Days

The counting may stop,
the spinning through
a thousand seasons
in a day may
become a memory. Or,
it won’t. Who
can predict
how my feet
will move
on the island
at dawn.

With Sloping Shelves

Multicolored book
trucks still roll
into view. She muzzles
herself as she drifts

to a one-room
library circa 1970. Rain dazzles
the surface
of the island. The scent

of Mylar, settled-in
type, a lilac
perfume on the librarian
who reads

Blueberries for Sal
to a circle
of restless children. Next stop,

next town, the Flying Horses
to ring themselves off.
Then it fades away.

Traveling Lighter in Increments

A cold spell snaps
into the first

heat wave
of the season. Which season?

An approach
by air

rather than
by sea

could open
those island gates

she has been eyeing
for as long

as she has been walking
without a crutch.

Is It Mine Again?

Dumptruck sings “Get off
my island.” Used to be
my refrain even though
I’ve always known no one

(especially me) can really own
it. Just missed going to college
with one Dumptrucker. Shared a cab
from the Lower East Side to Prospect Heights
early one Sunday morning with another.

An oral history gets written
down. What gets lost
in translation becomes ghost
poems that only recite

themselves under waxing
crescent moons. But when they do,
you can hear them echo
up freshly rained-on empty streets
with titles like “urban spring” and “long live
the lighthouse keeper.”

Didn’t Even Bite Me

It was an English sheepdog
on the island. I got tangled
in the wire—cut across
the tender part
of the ankle. Left
a scar next to the skin
I would permanently mark
later with a plastic
razor. On the same island.
And those nautical rope
bracelets with ends
fastened by fraying
and burning. I had
one of those too.