If She Reads Too Much

Into this
collision of events—

an anniversary and
an announcement.
An epitaph nodding

at a long dead
affair gets plastered
with a bill blasting

a live
threat. A reunion

of the soundtrack
that did her in. She could peel
it off—the stone would still

be cool. But these words
are not.

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Sun’s First Suspension

The morning’s unexcused
absence can lead to another,
then another, and
still another till

truncated days are
all we get. Our children’s

children will dream of civil
dawn the way we long
for a pristine shoreline, pine
forest, subway wall, guitar

riff. Saudade
for time of day

as much as for a place
or soul we never knew
renders us
human all over again.

Pillory

“Lap and drag. Crag and gleam.
That continual work of wave
And tide, like a wet wind, blowing
The earth down to nothing.”
—Tracy K. Smith, from “Minister of Saudade” (in Duende)

When laws of motion become lairs,
it’s time to reconsider the quarry

and what it might hold. She stopped
buying bathing suits when she learned

the truth about limits. Love
lies at the bottom

of the bottomless. There she’ll be—
denying her need

for oxygen. Not a little death.
Not a death at all.

Downtown to Uptown

To me, this doesn’t rhyme:
“And the rural route
I can never get out.”*

Last day before daylight
saving time is a spoiler
for spring. First long walk

of the year
without a jacket
unveils last fall’s

aroma being transmitted
from the ground.
Moving away

from the river, I wonder
how saudade can get so landlocked.
Everyone who came

to my birthday party
at the Uptown Bar and Café
that first year

to drink Jägermeister
and beer is dead—
including the Uptown—save me.

* Darin Wald, “Not to Me” (from Big Ditch Road’s Ring)

Saudade Exchange Rate

Let this table not wobble, my coffee
not spill. Let me not offend

an old friend, remember how
to pronounce the name of your hometown

before I get there. Let it not rain
in New York City

Friday night. Let me discover alternative
spellings for closure, stop trying

to recall how you greeted and bid me
farewell—how I loved it so much

I kept it a secret
even from myself. Let me learn

how to write a grant to pay
for all this incurable longing

neither of us could afford.

Our Saudade

It revolved around Boston,
the Cape, Amherst, the Vineyard, Woburn,
an entire state—

our common ground. You—
with your accent and clearly delineated roots. Me—
with a brief history,

my mother’s story, and an incurable longing
no word in English
could contain. All of our plotting

and heightened talk went nowhere beyond
imagination. Now that I know

you are back home, I’ll fly

East so we can finally spend a moment
together on this sacred turf. You—

ashes. Me—alive
more than ever, ready to be enough
for the both of us.

A Darker Pomegranate

I collect dates
as if they were door
handles. Seek the perfectly shaped one

to build a saudade
life around. Your birth, or death,
or the afternoon you got divorced—

it could be one of those.
But I choose to lock
my eyes on a calendar

with the first day of school
circled in red. Tuesday,
September 2nd, 1980. You looked right

in red. Let the vintage ink
smear. Now I will too.