I caught a glimpse today, of the divine
Found it under a drift of papers full of empty words
Out of the corner of my eye brilliant color flashed
And then was gone, out the closed window to the sun
I forgot my petty worries, my figmental pain
Remembered the self I met once as a child.
There are turtles swimming beneath the trees
She smokes, flame-red hair curled tight to her skull, a cap of chemicals
“Come close,” she breathes, and a rose tattoo bleeds from wrinkled tits
The old ones within wait for death, she waits with them.
“I wanted it where everyone could see it,” she rasps, turns, the tattoo climbs her neck
Wraps its thorns, its leaves, its deathly petals, nothing to see here.
Every morning in the stolid summer she walks near-naked, watching, waiting.
Here I am again, not fitting my skin
Up against the stucco wall, saying words about men and jobs and kids
Parrot-like, not knowing what they mean or why I recite them
Other than to stay hidden. The work of it wears me to a nub.
My back is too straight, my hands twisted into girl-scout knots
I think. I never knew a girl scout, but I read the guide. Fire comes easy.
They twitter around me like birds, shiny beady eyes suspicious
I move slowly, lest to startle them and incite a mass ascension
Leaving me bare and featherless, shamed and flightless.
Hug, hug, kiss, kiss
Finally in my car I relax, the hard bones brazen
My dirty feet, my snarled hair. The smell of a campfire.
And the first glimpse of Caribbean blue, the glassy-walled world of brilliant fishes,
She trailed tiny pink paper umbrellas, spewed grey clouds of exhaust above notice
From careless piña coladas, from carnival-bright aorta-painted smokestacks.
And the music blared over the quizzical sighs of dolphins as they tried to leap high enough
To peer through portholes at strange pink whales beached beside buffets of beef and beer.
In Mo’ Bay the natives glared from windowless shacks and broken porches
White faces pressed against sweaty taxi windows stared back shameless.
The jungle pressed close, the vines twisted up toward opportunity, and
The air with its heavy fog of dirt
Trees with billowing trash-bag blossoms
They make me sleep, and sleep
No hurry to awake.
Silence, and then more of it.
I wander aimlessly on streets that turn back on themselves
Names like Alameda, and Amador
The As have it, I think. The better to pair with rolling Rs.
The dry river runs in its memories, while the bed cracks
A man fishes from a burning lake, his pole broken and mislaid
Black things twisting beneath the surface, hoping to be caught.
They are the only things with hope.
Always the wind, forcing you to eat the sand
Here I am, and you are nothing.
You wore me like a glove, kid-skin to be exact
Hard tight mouth clenched in a thin straight line
Heart pounding in the space beneath your ribs and my ear
I looked beyond the moment to the whisper of tomorrow
And saw my heart bleeding on the sidewalk,
Just run down by the speeding car of your casual slight.
You ran your fingers across my burning, flaming skin
Traced the lines of the fire inked in scars across my back
You made me come, and come, and I kept coming until
I couldn’t, until the giving left me empty as a shell
You grinned your smug little rainbow grin, laughed
Your sexy I-don’t-care laugh, so I fucked you sideways.
And the water streamed down my thighs into your hands.