After an Argument
-with a fragment from Sappho
they let their wings down
& I let the dishes gather
I was not as I wanted
a contrail dissipating
instead I was a woman
a woman with only sparrows
I left the door open
the leaves & wind
let themselves in
I washed my body
it was without your body
& let the air dry my skin
it was without your
skin I let the sparrows in
they made a mess of things
I’m sorry I’m not sorry
the sparrows’ chirps
were like rain
I let them build their nests dear,
I let them stay
Shoveling My Neighbor’s Sidewalk in the Dark
Because he died during a snowstorm,
his sidewalk coated in ankle-deep snow.
Because once, when my car wheels were stolen,
he plucked the bolts from his grass & held them
out to me like a nest of eggs & I saw
his front teeth were missing.
Most of all, because he was relentless,
meticulous with every single snowfall.
How many times did I wake
at 5 AM to his shovel’s ceaseless scrape?
Or hedge trimming in the warm months?
He was always there, there before any of us
came to the neighborhood, replaced
chain-link, began calling it ours.
One summer, a family of raccoons made a home
in his chimney. He let them stay.
My windows looked onto that great wreck
of a house. From that vantage, I was the woman
in the sun-shafted window, watering a jade plant.
How many sunrises have I seen over his rooftop?
The shingles greyed, the lilacs grew.
Families came and went, decades of children
aged to adults, clapboards were painted pond green,
dogs’ lifetimes passed, each year
another parade. The Centre Street trolley tracks
were paved over, the old houses
converted to condos, the Hi-Lo turned
to Whole Foods, the school switched to a charter.
I knew little, except this one, insistent fact:
he kept a chair on the porch, for the event
of thunder, stopped whatever he was doing
to watch the storm unspool.