I’m glad I know the ground’s a botanist
and not just something that we stand on.
Grow, it says, and there’s a sapling,
then a tree globed out with peaches. Every autumn
it says, Come here, let’s get those leaves off, baby.
Kind of like science, only much more sexy.
When April comes around, it seeds the air,
and farmers copy it, use pollinators—
bees, of course, and maybe hummingbirds,
highly specialized falcons, though I’m not sure;
I’m not an ornithologist. But bees
definitely. Wild symbiosis.
What a world! Each peach tree a genius.
And smarter than science, since it’s science we can eat.
Asked if she believed she would see her late husband again after her death, Ayn Rand replied that if she did, she would have killed herself so that she could be with him again.
One time, I knew him–no longer.
It is simple. He did not go away.
He did not leave.
He stopped. There is nothing more.
It is simple.
I speak of nothing. I speak of the empty
spaces in front of me. I wonder why. I am not
heard. He cannot hear me. He cannot picture my face
as I picture his–even saying this supposes
that he is. He is not.
The impulse is to deny oneself
nothing. When I want a meal, I eat.
When I am thirsty, I take a drink. Frank
was not food. He was not contained in a cup,
like sweet milk poured from the icy pitcher.
How can I be satisfied?
Would it be prayerful
to use the second person–
to whisper to the dead
from under the sheets of
the quieted bed? That wisp
of a word–you–is not you,
but it might satisfy, instead.
Frank, if I could have lived
without you, I would have left
you–finished our insidious hook
and scrape of wanting, being wanted;
allowed my skin to stop feeling the air for you.
If I believed I would find you again–
after your long time away–I would whirl
into the chilly crowd where you’ve hidden,
come to you singing passion,
lay you in my breath of vapor.
The year is nascent still, a foal
fresh from another body
learning its own. The temperature
flirts with the vague idea
of zero. I’m being rezoned. There’s a new
map drawn in my mind. I take a breath,
then roll call under that. I say
Fishtown, Nicetown, Germantown Ave,
Gayborhood to keep my jaw warm.
I say jaw warm until my mother
tongue is dumb, becomes another
part of the unfamiliar. This New Year’s Eve
I took some risks, small though
they may have been. I painted my nails
to reward Sephora’s winner of ten thousand dollars’
worth of polish. (They named it “That’s Just Gret-
chen” after her—what a disaster.) I glued a white feather
to the center of a mask, wrapped
a boa ‘round my neck, ducked
out, having other people to see.
In South Philly, I passed a woman
ascending her stairs who stopped
and said Well Happy New Year, Darlin!
with equal parts warmth and worry,
as if I were one of her own,
as if I must be someone else