Like a fool, I let him into my house,
and he began dropping jottings everywhere.
Where once crepe paper flowers had been,
jottings overflowed the basin into the water closet.

Urban affairs had kept him—
something about a rendezvous with kelp. “Hurry,
the paths of nature are creeping
to the corrugated tooth. And it’s a blitz of old stars,
tonight!” Something in me leaned into the vacant door frame.
It was a still life of bottles and a jar
that once had held cold cream. We mustn’t wait here
for him, that’s what he wants, and
if we do so he’ll want to eat us up.

No more us to be with in the morning,
among the cups and shards. No more sticky places on the railing.
We held hands there too, once, for years, watching the
palms move out into the harbor.
The pianola never recovered from the loss.

And today the air is bright again and fresh with twigs.
No mourners were sighted on the post road.
He came down to us with relaxed meaning in his grin,
cudgeled, cajoled us, told us breezy stories
about a widow in the henhouse.

After all regrets have been pocketed, the counter wiped clean
of terrible fingerprints, assuredly one moves westward
into sheepherding country. The ranchers won’t like it,
but they’ll let us live, closer to dying
than many insects are now, attracted by the chiming and gleams of the cash register.
Other oaths, other options will follow
in the wake of spring.

Millions of mullions waken, gesticulate to us.

This Issue

April 26, 2001