Ode to a Wreck
Praise to my ovaries, those broken
little bee hives busy with trying. I’m sorry
I’ve been so cruel to you, calling you
curse. I should have laid out the red
stains in my underwear like unearthed
texts, treasured their hidden message, pressed
warm hands to my abdomen to say
thank you, thank you. Twenty years
we’ve been working on something awful
and I never once commended your efforts.
No wonder you’re tired. No wonder
I have to shake you from slumber
every month with a dose of doctor’s orders.
Can you forgive me? Like a late-in-life
husband, I’m trying to be better, to compliment
your soft pink surfaces, pocked with cysts,
to feed you and stroll with you past
a winter park just beginning to bud.
Ode to a Dead Bouquet
This morning, into the waste bin with you—
two dozen small pink roses desiccated by the draft
creeping through the cracks in the old hopper window.
Last week, delivered already on your last legs. I’m sorry
I couldn’t keep you somewhere warm. It’s winter, you know—
you arrived only a day after the frozen rain stopped,
while glass panes still crackled with thaw. Procreated
product of four days of weathered isolation, until I stood
in the doorway of our bedroom and asked him to show me
love. Little things, little pink blossoms piped with violet—
on Monday, you arrived; on Wednesday, he painted
our names on the kitchen wall. Flower as seed, as first
step, as omen, as admiration. A thing of beauty that
blossoms even as it withers. Though each day
you’ve wilted, darkening heads bowed more
toward my desk, aged and musky with rot,
I want to sew you into my hair, bury you
in my womb, fill my shoes with your powdered petals.
Instead, I’ve dropped you into the crowded bin,
rinsed your vase and wiped it dry. I’ll carry it home
and set it on the counter. An open mouth.
Center Hill Lake
Thousands of silver fish flash like melting ice along the wind-
whipped peaks of the lake in April. I think pollution, see human
error—but am told otherwise, that each year the lake turns
like a body in bed and the shock is too much for the smaller fish.
At night, the revel of my naked coworkers cannon-balling
from the patio. I swim away, between the foam columns that hold
up the dock, under the lacework of steel. I am never as bold
as in water, never as naked as when dragging my body up the boat ramp
or stumbling drunk down the slick aluminum bridge, my whole world
a clatter of after-hours echoing across the lake. I want to pray, to believe
the stars are just a scatter of light on my inner eyelid, that what is vast
can be held between my fingers—every night, the hills that encircle the lake
are dark and silent as the sky. They only reply in echoes.