Running Away

I hold you by the armpits
pivot, drop—a crushed torso
moving bed to chair, indignant
and ready for the day.
Staring down the corridor
—what do you see?
Alarm bell signals every move
gate break to sidewalk pavers

a patio plant moving
sun to shade and back
baffled to find yourself
called by a familiar name
you, who once towered over
everyone, brighten a little
listening in on mortgage rates
wreathed by cedar plank

dominion over tomato,
geranium and morning glory
divested of yourself in pieces—
end zone tickets to Lambeau Field
buckets of seashells break off coast
shiny coins you held, accumulate
in the pockets of drawstring pants
an orchestral encyclopedia ready

to burn—trombone, tuba, mismatched
uniforms marching in parade.
Of course, you won’t remember me,
I was so little then and swiftly
swapped allegiance for someone
more my size, back-kicking gravel
in your face on those in-a-godda-da-vida
nights I shed myself of you, keep you in

a double bind: I look into your eyes
hear the ostinato and wait for recognition
of what it was—polyphonic organ and
drumbeat solo—I was running away with and from.


You had already promised to be good
cross your heart hope to die, starfish
on a rag rug, vista water, spilling west-
ward on land your father once loved
married to the bride in tears. Now see
how allegiance moves, too much let
in, just as light catches and travels
attachment to attachment. Wait longer,
this too shall pass, slivers of cut glass,
polygon trace over plaster, night shelter
built of shiny bits. All that glistens and
has yet to come, will come. Edges blur
beyond reach, at the deep end open to
inspection, origin—not yet known.

Maybe the Poem

Maybe the poem did
shimmer on the newsprint
page, between coffee cups
and winter ink. But you—

you are ever on your back
and floating,
Lake Harriet backstroke
sidestroke, crawl. First,

an animal, then a woman
lifted out of the story
into the present moment
of thought. Not about him

not about her, just a
paddling dream in sun
and water with the body
of a horse and a retrievable

ending, generously given
not left for chance
reflection—ice in the air
arising with the cold.

In the Wetlands

Not just first thoughts
inside an empty house, after

A steel drum holding wood
on a snow-tracked hill

The bell tone of dinner
amplifying darkness

An open slot cut into the
trees, space for imagination

Filling with leaves
a grid of saplings clear-cut

To widen the road
arrowheads under fence lines

Like many collections
enshrined in shoe boxes

Where meaning
was left and lost.

What needed to be
said, could not be said,

Although the land
was never ours, memory

makes a claim on it
in the ditches we found

Wild grape, so improbable
in the wetlands