She’ll Do Better

With this table flush
against the peach
wall. Words and precious
residue won’t spill. Salvage

everything save time. Nothing
but it will do. Wobbles is a copout
term. Tabula rasa even worse. Clutter
corrects itself

while she works. Evening retrieval
would secure her—sustain us best.


First Definition: Compensation paid for saving a ship or its cargo from the perils of the sea, or for the lives and property rescued in a wreck.  

I promised my younger self
(or is it my younger self
who promised me) I would forget 

you. I would not record
the scent of your hair
close shaven on your neck and scalp. 

I would not try to score
the boom of your voice
into my soundtrack loop for sleeping. 

I would not wait
for you on the pier
where everyone waits 

for their next drink,
or receipt for the next purchase
in any of those too numerous chain boutiques. 

I promised everyone but myself (at any age)
I would never speak your name out loud, or whisper it
into the hollows 

of trees or dead
birds’ eyes. I keep
my mouth shut. But I can’t resist 

what I see
on the sidewalk—never to know how the black
bird ended up in that position. Into its mystery, I press 

the harsh consonant and arrogant single
syllable of your name—let it stick, let it stick.

Sea Dumpster Divers

What the storm asserted
the wave to lash,
what the hull cracking
separated bow from stern forever, 

what settled to ocean floor slowly
will reconstitute salvaged treasure.
If two people
someday dive into our wreck— 

and they will—to collect

our splintered mass
of a life gone askew,
piece by piece, 

what they bring to the surface,
what they examine
will be the new us, 

will be a restoration,
regeneration, the religion of us
carted to the surface
alive in their palms.