the last sad poem

i wish now i had written you
more love poems. i wish i hadn’t
written us as drowning when
we weren’t, wish i hadn’t written
the fear into domesticity so soon.
i wish i had always chosen to be gentle.
now, we are all wish. maybe we have
always been that, all each other’s
almost-what-i-want’s. i keep
referring to us in the past tense.
i try to convince myself the unconscious
doesn’t know anything. it is not
a meaningful slip. these little lies
are okay but they seem to grow
on their own. once i nearly convinced
myself you aren’t leaving. it was
only a second but it felt so good.
what pieces do i get to keep?
the way you and the dog sleep
with your bodies curled the same.
how you push up your glasses
with your middle finger like they might slide
off your nose and keep
sliding. the angle of your mouth
when you are disappointed, the little
shake of your head. how tight
your curls get when they’re dirty.
once when we stood in front
of art we both probably thought
was stupid and i wanted you
to keep me like a quarter under
your tongue—the secret is
worth the most. it used to be hard
to tell what it is that i love: knowing
there will be a body in the bed
each morning, or that it is only
ever your body. maybe it has just
become too hard to imagine
anyone else. these little lies pile
up like spare change.



this is the best i have ever been
at loving anything. it has always
been a problem of too’s: too much
want for one body, too little focus.
but this, finally-equilibrium. to teach
children to stand one-legged, say:
pick a point in the distance, don’t
move your eyes. it was never not
knowing this trick it was just always
too hard to pick only one point.


i walk through the front door three times
before it feels good enough. what a pleasure
to find your lover home first. what a joy
to find your porch full of potting soil and
fingernail clippings. i sleep through most
afternoons now but i tell myself i’ve earned
it. what does it take to earn what you need?
this is worse than a bad peach. this is summer
gone sour.


i imagine myself to tears
over and again. it’s exhausting.
this grief is a box with walls
i can’t see. maybe it is a tunnel.
how to mourn someone
who will go on living? these poems
are their own little funerals.
activity of the day: cry in a new part
of the house. wash the bed covers.
shower twice and forget to shampoo
both times. look at old pictures
that make it worse. grope around
inside myself for a minute until
i realize it is all air. walk
the dog without an umbrella.
sleep wet in clean sheets.


things that were once hard to love
have become precious with the threat
of absence. it is so hard not to be afraid.
what parts of you have already begun
to grow distant? i am scared to sit even
on the other side of the table. i wash
your forks and love you. i put your shoes
in a row by the door and love you.
i touch my mouth to your side of the bed
and try to imagine it as just the other
side. this is a helplessness i don’t know
what to do with. you are drunk and talking
so loudly, clearly in your sleep it sounds
like a wedding toast. i put your liquor
hands over my face and love you, still.
i never learned to want things
i can’t just worker harder to keep.

mile high

when you lean your head against the wall
of the plane you hear it for what it is: a ball
of metal hurtling like a crazed insect. it’s easier
to say things out loud at 30,000 feet: how seeing
me naked doesn’t excite you anymore, how we put
our hands on each other by default because it’s what
people in love do. from above the mountains
look like some sort of reptile–the back of a giant lizard.
i imagine falling from the edge of the wing like a seed:
not light enough to float, not heavy enough to fall straight
down. instead i drink ginger ale and look for snow.
what a stupid luxury this life is.


under pink light

i want you
to look at me:
strewn across
our bed, above
the blankets
but under pink
salt lamp light.
all crevice and
dip, no place
to balance a cup.
legs like a line
of tennis balls
inside a sock.
my mother said
don’t wear
horizontal stripes
they don’t do anyone
any favors. i haven’t
touched anything
striped in years.
i am all about
the long lines. all
about underwear
with more lace
than cloth, tight
in the right spots.
an hour under water
hot enough to cook
a small animal, no
more gentle cleansers.
you slide beneath
the blankets like
there isn’t a whole
human in front
of you. a whole
woman who could
be anywhere else.
what more can i do
to this body
to make you
want it?