trees in our town
held a long, slow protest rally
roots cracked all our roads
trees in our town
Gardens in late spring, lush with blossoms
A little girl sent to bed, crying
The best cappuccino you ever had, served with strawberries that tasted like nothing at all
Phone that rings in an empty house, how it echoes
A fight at a family dinner
All the old details crossed out in your address book
Catching an early morning flight, the almost deserted airport
Another magic mirror—this one reflects the childhood you wanted to give your children
A glass of cool water when you are most thirsty
The suitcase you never unpacked
Busy signal every time you dial her number
A striped beach blanket abandoned in the sand, as night falls
The list of things you wish to say, if she answered the phone
A candle burning
How eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable
Standardized tests, the way they fan the scent of anxiety
The last call before your phone dies
You May Circle All That Apply
this seashore, off season
shared by the faithful—
puppies, big dogs, toddlers,
spry elders, frazzled families
looking for a cheap vacation—
all these, and the gulls,
these own the beach now—
the beach reclines, sighs out to sea
here, in its cool and peaceful days of rest
spikes line this road
through the forest
like many of us
gossips in the wind
mourns lost cousins
late winter—bare trees
stand ready to dress in green
move from march to dance
jangling pocketful of coins—
loud, but worn by time
To you, the woman in
the next bathroom stall
at the Philadelphia airport:
The little girl with you?
The one in pink suede boots?
The one who was crying, hard?
I heard you hitting her
Heard the soft thwak of it
your blows softened
by her thick winter coat. Listen.
I’ve been One Overwhelmed Mother too
tired, tired, enraged. What scared me
Was how you yanked her
crying self into the stall.
Are you done? Are you done yet?
was what you kept repeating, furious.
When I came out of the bathroom
You were both long gone though
I looked for you, not knowing
what I would say if I found you.
Are you done yet?
Did you find calm, did you find
the well of patience buried deep
in love with that child
in love with her in this world?
I spent the rest of the day flying
carrying the memory of you two
in the air, making wishes
and for you
casting what spells I could
through thick cloud cover