Strays

Not exactly a rip
current but enough of a drag
to rearrange her.

Where are we?
Where’s our stuff?

See my car beyond
the collapsing seawall?

Identifying cars has never been her
strength. A weakened
swollen left foot

finds relief
in the cool salt

water. Nothing hurts
in this moment. Gang

shootings happen weekly
back home. Heads down, eyes
locked in, a knot

in the throat that can’t be loosened
by the contents

of any of those 10,000 +
lakes. By blood soaking into a little sister’s

sleeve. And swimming here
in a dress, she wishes
she could be more lost.

Toughened or Tempered

A mural on a sound
barrier wall won’t disturb

the peace. A movie
flashing on an ice rink dasher

board will not melt. But
air measuring

14 below zero Fahrenheit
with 35 below wind chill will

make your eyes sting. And who will shed
Dutch tears?

Prosaic Dream

You are not in
her dream—merely fragments left
behind to prove

you were here. A small sketchbook,
a pair of socks, one
thick glove, a trace

of your carefully constructed
thought. She handles
the sketchbook but

finds an old-fashioned band
flyer with a letter scrawled
on the back

more appealing. Scans
the words—sees her name
near the bottom of the page. Slanted

forward. You know what
they say about that. And then

she wakes up. No idea
what the letter said
about her or who

it was addressed to. It’s 20 below,
and the cat’s licking bedroom
window blinds again.

Lake Effect

What if
one of those 10,000
got lost—would it turn
up across town
tucked between
the circular one
and that snake? What drains
her tonight
will relieve
her some morning
down the road—a mysteriously
winding one. Could have been
stolen, could be returned
before dawn.

Day 212 (When I Am Home)

I am New England dirt,
the taste of beets out back.
I am not brownstone—
not urban by birth. I am

still in quarry depth,
the scent of cars rusting beneath.
I am not ocher—not red
iron ore impure. I am sipping

fresh water from a claw-foot tub
turned spring, overflowing
to Bone Lake at dusk
and warm. But I am not

the moon to be collected.
I am not forty jokes memorized—
not working a room,
timing accent and plot. I am

ready to mark this laughter
the colors of a flower bed
against brick. I am the line
drawn purple—blues and reds

of a road map
preparing to fold everything
I am
(except magnetic north) in place.

Land of 10,000

Free associate my home
with rehab. Go ahead. Ivy here entwines
a power line, a Jefferson Lines bus
gets towed. I’m on our only light
rail train traveling south. Will make an exit
by air. Wherever I go, I must
rehabilitate or stall out.

Look Up & Down

It’s happening again—distortion
in the sky. Not another season
in sight. The man in a neon vest drops

his shovel. A bus rolls up—
wheels on a new white blanket.
Won’t last. Disintegration

at ground level. I watch from my skyway
perch—it is warm up
inside. Which one in stupid hat and gloves

is you? I gave up the search
decades ago. Now I extinguish the light.

Love Death Unfurl

“And so, every building we have walked through begins to walk through other buildings.”
—Colum McCann, from his essay “An Imagined Elsewhere: The City of Cities” accompanying Matteo Pericoli’s World Unfurled

As far as she knows, he is the first
to go. Others may have
exited too—she can’t monitor
all egresses, all trap doors

lovers walk on, all the hot air
balloons that crash
into lagoons and straits.
Better to travel on foot

with skyway vision in January,
bridge perspective come spring.
That he has missed two seasons
already, will never feel the first

blast of warm euphoria
in Minnesota again—this is not
a spinster’s regret.