The worst had happened.
Yet she woke up
Her features still met the atmosphere
at the same coordinates.
The hardships of tomorrow are put off
as we make our way to the grocery.
The living go to cafes
and discuss their injuries.
The dead keep their places
Meanwhile the procession of carts slows
in the paper towel aisle.
Those walking down the street with groceries
are indisputably of this time,
properly devoted to this century.
Tin foil radiates off a windshield,
wrinkling the reflections of the passersby.
Humbling those who
are already humbled.
A bag slowly rolled down the housing project wall.
Things are constantly being lost
out of windows,
in the bathroom, down the hall.
I'm surprised people walk around intact.
But the reverse order of things springs at me
when I throw paper at the ground and it flies up.
Where the sky is dark, I think I'll be warm.
I can't stop thinking that the wrinkles in my toes
By now you've seen quite a few days.
They've registered over your eyes
and can't explain themselves to the neighbors.
Aging is subtle
although now we can see it.
It's spelled out on our pillowcases.
The formalities are gone.
We have a better understanding of the weather
than our parents.
But our parents know best
how to live in it,
how to siphon it out of the pool.
MOM AND DAD GROWING OLD
She went back to her hometown.
The recesses between her parents'
teeth were growing wider,
but love still shined through the holes
in their knit sweaters
and kept things at a warm familiar pace
with lunch preceding dinner.
DECEMBERS IN MIAMI BEACH
Miami Beach was a place for my relatives' fit bodies
to lean back into the sun.
A place where they moved recklessly
out into the deep.
Years of the same back stroke,
the same straw hats,
and the sea
washing in and out
of their shades.
Then, one winter,
under the wide brims,
their trim middles
in the sand.
This was a matter discussed years ago
only now surfacing
in spots of light
on their faces
GIVE OR TAKE
made us forget the stretch of time that separated us,
pushed it under our feet with the rocks.
pushing us toward shore
had the same effect on both of us
as nothing else had for the past year.
We dove under,
ended up at parallel spots,
had to stand and press against the water to get back out.
The water pulled everything out of us
as it pushed us through
We dove and laughed.
I mentioned the divers and cameras yards away,
probably looking for an old shipwreck.
Later, biking home,
we learned they had been looking for a woman.
The fisherman who found her the next morning
said at first he thought she was a mannequin
lying across the rocks.
IN SPANISH LAKES MOBILE HOME PARK
When Grandpa sleeps, all gravity falls
to his chin.
He is wearing his beige coat,
the one he's afraid of losing.
His shoulders fall as he exhales.
The fan above him flicks shadows
on and off his red and white-striped pants.
Grandma is writing in her checkbook.
The park's clipped grass is dry, rough
and filled with lizards.
The canal is stagnant.
Watching TV, the Scottish couple next door
their son missing in Turkey.
The woman has four-inch toenails.
DAUGHTER UNDER WEEPING WILLOWS
It took months for the seed to meet the egg
and so many more for the formation
of the being,
who is now discussing the day with you,
"clear and cold," with bits of disturbing news
slipped under the fingernails.
Reclining in lawn chairs--
of what it means
to have created another,
who can talk shop with you,
the reflections of the trees swinging
in her hair.
And to think of others who had loved
this whole progression.
IN MEMORY OF ROSE ROSENBLATT
Grandma had a stout walk
and centuries of human nature
built up in her spine,
supporting her entrance into the restaurant.
Her sturdy body,
moving from bedroom
had an opinion
in the lines
around my father's eyes.
MY DOG THAT DIED
They say my dog that died
looked like a seal.
I thought about my dog.
He didn't look like a seal to me.
But what is life anyway
that it can slide right under my dog and be gone?
It's experiencing a world,
a world where we can look at seals if we want to
or rhinoceroses or hippopotami if we want to.
And wherever we travel after this,
wherever this is leading,
will we be able to see these phenomena?
Or are seals only a one-life thing?
TOO FAR INTO PRODUCTION
The world was built up.
The origins of a century
that went too far into production
and skimped on the hand holding.
A paper towel after every washing.
A napkin for every cherry.
It didn't occur to them
to think of those who follow.
He was too rigid
They would need
to rub up against his legs
and jump into his arms
He needed his arms
to arm himself.
His kisses, brushes with promise,
twisted into the fetal position.
is in my teeth
but my body is beginning to move on.
There Was A Price To Be Paid
There was a price to be paid
for having children
but a bigger price
leading them from the park
to the playground
and showing them the ladybugs in your hair.
At the cafe, the boy left
his mother's table
to eat without her.
calling him over,
but he was struck
by the poster
of a fish in the Red Sea.
The backslap left an imprint of a hand
on her back
until someone took her in,
gave her a massage,
and they lived together
with their edges off,
A number of things came back to her,
but the air, in particular,
accepted her more
on her own terms.
She had a home now --
a place to regurgitate
if she had to.