The Way My First Girlfriend Gave Flowers
Almost summer, so they put fucking flowers on everything-- Billboards, campaign flyers, lottery tickets. We never really had a break-up, Only drifted separate ways and then discussed the new waters we were treading. Teary-eyed, in April. "Brought you flowers," she said, climbing back into the car at the gas station. Scratch off three the same, win up to a grand. I won a dollar, plus the penny I used to scratch. She said very little besides that.~~April 2004
You gripped me so tight, so sudden That I thought it was the thunder Shaking loose from the balcony, Where younger women waited With Bacardi and my best interests To walk me forward. You will never be in front of me again. Later, I sat in the rocking chair, Banished to the balcony so new friends and lovers could fit their stuff in my apartment. You were gone, like always. The fucking storm ended quiet.~~April 2004
That Christmas Eve the mom and daughter cooked A table full of Christmas food and sweets. They lit green candles as a centerpiece, And didn’t mention Christmases before, Or how they’d never cooked a meal like this. And neither of them spoke of coming years, Preferring to talk only of the food And decorations that the daughter made. The son spilled milk, and everybody laughed – It was the kind of night you didn’t care About another ugly carpet stain. You didn’t mind the creaks, the broken doors, The closets where your lives all fit, and then It was a pretty house by candlelight. That Christmas Eve the dad brought presents home From god knows where, and wrapped them up in green. “I love you all,” he said, and kissed his wife; She echoed him, and turned to watch their kids Laugh heartily and tear into their gifts: A paint set for the girl, for the boy, a flute. “Oh, Dad!” they shouted, ran to give him hugs. “Oh, God,” the mother said, but very soft. She didn’t ask him where he’d got the means -- She never spoke of money over meals. That Christmas Eve they ate like others did, Together at a table, telling jokes And Christmas stories, singing carols, too. At midnight Mom plugged in the Christmas tree, And that’s when nothing happened, nothing lit. “The power’s out,” Mom said. “Must be a storm.” And Dad said, “Bring the flashlight,” but by then The spell was gone, the Christmas dinner ruined. The son said sharply, “No one’s paid the bill.” The daughter said, “I don’t want stolen paints.” The mother knelt to mop the carpet stain. The father went to get the light himself.
"Ain’t like it was when we was comin’ up," The woman says, and I don’t point out She must have come up twenty years before me. Her kids are standing apart from us: The big one, sneakered and cool, Trying to blend into some other family; The little one in boots almost too big for her to handle. That one’s jumping cracks in the sidewalk, One foot at a time, And there are two separate sounds of her landing: The heavy boot hitting the pavement And then her little foot Hitting the bottom of the boot. "It was a different world when we were that age," The woman says, Even though when she was that age I hadn’t been born, And when I was that age Her kids had. "I used to run wild, all over the place; You know, up there on the hill Before they built the mall. But I don’t let these two out of the yard by themselves." Even now she doesn’t take her eyes off them For more than a second; So I know she’s got to see her boy Edging further and further away. Little girl looks up and grins widely at her mother. "I’m spacewalking," She announces, And her mother nods seriously and says, "That’s fine." The bigger one breaks his scowl to smile briefly. "I used to do that," he says, sounding older than he looks.
I sat at the computer on those nights that were damned by everything from ladybugs to the quality of light. I let my hands keep moving on the ashen keys while my thoughts drifted away Thoughts drifting always And if they didn't it was because I hung onto them Pleading, "Don't go Don't go away" And when they did it was to the darkness down the stairs that lived and breathed inside the cubby behind the refrigerator Inhale ... exhale ... even though I was old for such things as fearing the empty house And when the breathing stopped or I tuned it out My mind drifted through the window cracks past the porch with its swarms of moths that fluttered in my stomach till I cried and cried and cried It drifted down the snowy hillside that would have been perfect if perfection was something I could comprehend on nights that terrified me so And looking back Safe in this moment I think there was even something perfect about those ladybugs The way they flitted and fretted on a bare light bulb And lived briefly in the glare of my insanity and the glow of the computer's incessant screen While their aluminum wings beat a rhythm again: "Don't go away ... Don't go ...."~Sary
03 January 2001
Stranded on the Face of the Moon
Hello, my darling ones out there in orbit where I can't touch you Remember what winter became? There were things we did, in winter And we were closer to each other And so much further from each other Than I remember ever being. It was cold outside So cold, and silver-black With the woodstove far from being ours We drank wine coolers Slept in unfinished rooms Where blankets didn't keep us warm And dreams were long and strange Or else we didn't sleep at all But sat freezing up all night With our fears and our hearts beating faster than usual While we held back tales and tears and smiles It was beautiful out there And it was horrible out there And it was everything out there. And when I say beautiful, I mean the kind of beautiful that nothing else can be. It makes me ache with what it is: A work of fiction, art, or light That God or Schubert put together. We came apart out there. We lost each other and ourselves We lost our things and lost our minds. We found out what the moonlight meant and it came as a surprise. We were stranded up there In our coats in our castle We were stranded on the face of the moon. Suspended in orbit, We all meant something new. And I loved you all so fiercely And I cried to think about you sitting out there on the moon With not so much as oxygen To keep you all awake, and me besides. To sleep was sudden Out there dizzy in the universe With waves of dreams of things we knew And didn't know and wished we did I ran to you in dreams With my arms full of pine needles And found myself running on paths lit by the moon beneath my feet And I was terrified with every breath And I loved you all with every breath And I cried so hard with every breath That nothing was the same or ever would be. Remember me? Remember summers and blackberry stains? I do, And I remember you I reach for you every so often. But I am here on Earth today With a wide grin somewhere in my chest So I wave instead With my weathered hands As I see you rise and set before the stars. My dream, my moon-walkers My darling ones, hello.~Sary
Oct. 4, 2000
On days when yellow checkerboard sunspots fill the spaces between then and now I am taken with things like spilled salt and sudden dreams And kittens with runaway whiskers fascinate me As do runaway whispers of children hiding in coat closets Breathing the smell of snow or spring on a jacket On days when sunspots inside are summer And outside glance off snow I am taken with things like dripping and melting and breathing cold And the laughter kittens must think as we scurry about them Forgetting to sleep in sunspots~(c) sary1013
The Need ...
...burned from inside each of us Long-past endless forgotten summer mornings With the sound of the rain doves calling storms Found us already out Hair tied back under corduroy caps Imagined to resemble velvet. Rain soaked earth Where we dug with our fingernails Patterns of horseshoes of horses we never knew Wind whipped manes that didn't exist Across our eyes Which saw creatures we couldn't have seen Swayed backs and roman noses were only beautiful to us When we heard of them Hearing beyond them the tumbling hooves Of a gallop we couldn't have heard. Thunder brought our dreams inside Safe in the stable With the grassy floors and the maple walls Lightning sheltered us And the need ... Burned from inside each of us And galloped on To the stable sky While Heaven nested in the rafters And kept us warm.~~Sary (c) 1998
she walked away as if it were another day didn't stop to listen, and, if she had, she wouldn't hear sounds like these can only be heard on videotape played back on moments aching for once again when it's too late to revise phrases spoke go silent like little girls not knowing and speaking anyway these little girls who will know if they keep trying will be here one day once again is different too to little girls with teary eyes who once grew up and still know when to cry but never how tears like these can only be shed for videotape rolling moments she can't smell anymore idly she wonders if they'll ever come up with a camera that can keep smells, too eyes closed, she tries to conjure it up from videotape but she didn't remember it then the moment was too simple for such things "Nothing ever Happens here." so ... she left and is alone to watch her videotape and embrace momentous while freeing Once Again there is something to be said for all alone sounds are different turning in her own head turning turning and nowhere to go even the girl is unsuspecting her breath quickens pulse flutters and she feels things tenfold things more real? now, but on her videotape real was spinning with her arms out and change? was losing her balance on purpose and falling? that was on purpose too. But she never wondered where she might land. She already knew. she walked away as if it were a dream from which she could wake but falling dreams that wake you in the middle of the night don't do it till you've very nearly landed. And falls like that don't wake you up on videotape.~~by Sary
The man in the old-fashioned suit smiles and spills his coffee We feel close, as if semi-darkness and the rain outside unite us -- The man in the suit and the woman behind the counter Who's been working all night and is probably only feeling tired and grumpy And not connected at all. My eyes sweep back across the long counter With its neat piles of Newsleader and Chronicle Reesees cups and candies And unexpected, suddenly, I'm shocked by something missing. There are no fireballs. No round, red candies to burn my tongue, To suck on for seconds at best before spitting them into the palm of my hand. No contests to be held with sisters -- Who can suck on a fireball the longest? And no pop-rock candy (Rice Krispies flavored and magnified) No gravelly strawberry bursting on my tongue. No white candy, either, with its tangy powder for dipping, To sit on the stone wall outside the courthouse And lick the powder from the candy stick without ever taking a bite. The man with the spilled coffee nods good-bye and ducks out into the rain. The woman behind the counter is tired. She probably doesn't even know that there were fireballs. She probably doesn't even know what I've lost.~By Sary
(c) Oct 1998