In the Absence of Red Alarms My blood sisters remember what I’ve almost forgotten, the menses that measure our time. I’ve lapsed my membership in that club, I travel free from the 30-day clock. My time is counted differently now. Days are years, years are millennia, millennia are without measure at all. There is no monthly debt; all accounts have been balanced. I spend myself as I wish now, with no child or threat of one. I’ve reached a bargain with the planets, their moons, the sky and all of its diamonds. I won’t wish on anything anymore. I have what I need. Days pass quietly here in the corner of the universe where I savor the slight air of a spring night, where my steps have taken 60 years to make sense. I don’t even drink anymore. I don’t require those toxins that once made me talkative with strangers. I talk when I want to, I laugh when I want. I listen when wild gusts threaten my house, but I don’t worry about the wind or the weather. What breaks can be mended. I’m free now, drunk with the wind and the silence, here in the absence of red alarms.
Cassini Dances with Saturn A necklace of summer storms pearls his northern hemisphere. He’s in stripes for the season, which happens to last 29 years. Asked to dance, he dons his perfect blue hexagon crown. You can’t touch him though, his skin is a mist. Eighty two moons surround him, a persistent entourage, and their flat faces ward off any advances. Finally, you’re close enough to feel his perfect gravities, his icy blast moods. You memorize his sleek contours. About the time you begin to learn what might melt him, you find the end for you is inevitable. What kind of rendezvous would include a death knell? But he’s what you came here for. With one look at his mutable face, you pirouette into his arms, knowing his embrace will kill you.
Blue In Houston, the dog slept in the truckbed, but by Galveston, he was gone. Blue had one brown eye, one blue. When he looked at you, you were drawn to that blue ice. A stray, we’d given him food, a place to sleep in the sawdust of the shop. Nothing much more. Standing there on the beach, we tried to guess the how and why of his leaving. Maybe he let someone lift him from the truck when we stopped for food. Maybe they wanted him more than he wanted us. Or he jumped out on his own at that stop, silent, urged, glad to fend for himself. Or he leapt as we sped along, into all that highway wind. Dreaming his way to a place to call home, a desire so needful, he couldn’t stay.
As Winter Closes In a room without history, where the latest hour opens a new revelation of finitude, a threat of a final ending, he puts away his dark pencil. He erases the sketches of anger drawn in hard lines, decides to surrender the coinage he’s kept for so long. To let the orphan of his heart remember what it means to open. As winter closes its old book, he waits for the coming of spring, summer, and all the other changes in weather. For the flush of lush leaves in a wash of light, for a blooming warmth in clean air. It doesn’t matter if rain will come with its stone crescendos. It doesn’t matter if the goodbyes will be long and painful. He’s found the picture he wants to live in, the place he can call home.
Scoliotic I’ve listened to the small sounds of this intricate body. This is no silent landscape. The soft push of blood in a pulse, the metronome click of joints when I climb the stairs, the small explosions deep inside when the hammer hits the anvil. On this map of skin, count the addition of fresh strawberry moles, like a chess game mid-play. You could travel blue rivers in my wrists, trace the sinuous island chain of my question-mark spine. In spite of these wonders, you really wouldn’t notice me. Supine or standing, I am parenthetical.
The Problem Dream I have a problem to solve, and if I don’t fix it, I’ll fall apart. I ask for your help. But you look to random things. Screen resolution. The dust on a small surface. An answering text. Why won’t you help me? Why? What is broken in you, that you don’t care? And why am I just now seeing this after all this time? How mistaken have I been about everything else I think I know? I shrug on a coat, smelly, threadbare, garish with all my past mistakes, and I’m forced to walk through town. I don’t want anyone else to see me this way, with all my errors in judgement so visible. But everyone stares. The heat of recognition embeds them in my skin.
The Dream About Marie She’s the queen of her supper club, silver couples who convene an elegant banquet once a week. Tall, handsome women in long, sparkling gowns. Men with mustaches, in uniforms with red tailcoats, gold braid. Marie finds me a dress, a floor-length lavender gown with sequins and bugle beads. The white-cloth tables are heavy with French cuisine, silver, crystal, good china. After dinner, we all move to the gymnasium next door. Everyone picks up a musical instrument, and one man walks to the end of the room, far away. He sits behind a bass drum, picks up the mallets, and sets the rhythm. We all join in, raucously.