Out to the Shoal

Life is a slip-on,
a nautical tassel loafer
that takes you gently
out to the shoal,
beyond the propeller
of the Silver Spray.
With your free hand,
you touch
though it feels like
any other lake muck,
and you wonder
when the other shoe
will drop
into the water
to carry you home.


My Head Was Shaped Like a Jug

I got booed because I was dead.
It was the toughest convention I’d ever been to.
I vowed to never go to another, which was easy
because I was dead.
I packed up all my ice cream
but forgot to tell the trees
I was leaving on the next train, but it never
showed up. I was stuck here for quite some time,
doing laundry that wasn’t even mine.


Where I Wasn’t

Boys don’t wait
for girls who can’t do anything
and I’m not just talking about sex stuff
(but sometimes it was sex stuff)
if you can’t even go out
or whatever
and meanwhile the cool kids
(not the popular kids, the cool kids)
are all out going somewhere with coffee
or nowhere, or to Rocky Horror,
throwing bread and kissing each other,
pretending it’s all platonic
having a night
or one night after another
an unbroken string that goes on
while I sit on the couch
looking out at the street
where I’m not



Sir? Are you tending that fire?
I don’t think you’re allowed to do that.
The sprinklers don’t water the borrowed view
anymore; though some nights, there are lights on
inside the house. Meanwhile, my husband and I
continue our lives; he sometimes grills on our porch,
the flame apparently visible from the house,
that house, now haunted by her roses.



My mother, foraging for black raspberries
behind the fish-and-chips restaurant
beside the park where my brother practiced baseball.
My mother, in the late ’70s, her mid-thirties,
like a doe but with a Tupperware container,
reaching for the furthest berries, braving scratches.

Today, I send my daughter ahead to the serviceberry trees
while I hunt for monarch eggs but come away with only
two handfuls of raspberries (red), and even those are superfluous
because we went to the farmers’ market this morning.

When I find her, with her heart-shaped basket almost full
of purple serviceberries, she is aghast to have noticed that
they have hauled away the wood-and-metal playground,
to be replaced soon, I tell her, with rope and plastic.

This is the way of the world, I think. One day,
something important is gone, and no one
bothered to ask you first.