will we have time for our hands
to roam wherever they need?
along night air and balcony railings,
damp noses sniffing the air for intruders,
mayflies whispering against the knuckle of your
ring finger for three quarters
of a second
we remember the freedom of being strays,
how loneliness stays as ticks and fleas.
we can’t outrun good intentions.
someone is always a phone call
away from what they call
if i had an insect’s body
i would whisper with my wings
like a dog whistle that only you can hear,
telling you we have to leave this place.
but as it is, we fill these canine back
alley corners better than anyone else
we are dogs feeding
from the same bowl. you growl,
i whine. our teeth are our defense.
if we are chained, we will be loud about it.
snapping teeth. bristled backs. we have
no other options
we want to be found. we don’t want
to be found. if chains are gone
then we will have the memory of chains.
if hands are the reason for chains,
we will break hands
and remember them as fists
we stand in the rain
of our own frightened smell,
keys rumbling in our bellies.
troubled dogs will always belong
to their original masters.
if it wasn’t for the old ones,
we’d be dancing through this sickness
with zinfandel wine and stacks
of rice, beans, coffee, milk,
all the necessities to survive
while making a cup of coffee i wonder
if our grandmothers will die before we are able
to buy them any more flowers.
every Easter my mother gives Grandmama
white lilies, which could represent doves, signs
of salvation, or any kind of metaphorical bullshit.
i’ll add my own metaphor: my grandmother’s face,
planted in soil. three lily faces are sleeping
inside a plastic pot
first face: she stands in blue skirt and white blouse,
brown curls gripping cheeks younger
than mine are now. did the photographer
add that pink blush to her cheeks?
does she know what is coming?
second face: she stands against the background
of dark kitchen cabinets, wearing the same kind
of white blouse but her hair isn’t brown anymore,
graying against the whole-body fever
blush of her skin in middle age.
can she feel the sickness creeping closer?
third face: she wears a pink jacket over the white blouse
and holds a birthday present, peering past pale tissue paper
because she can’t remember that she already
opened this one, so she will reopen
the truth of the future and keep
I wonder if she knows
that we have kept away because we love–
isn’t that the way it goes? we keep away
from what we love to keep it safe?
I bought an orchid and watched it slowly wither,
turning black, first the flowers, then the leaves,
as it sputtered dead on the kitchen stove
I’ll go to the edge
of my grandmother’s driveway, waiting
until it’s safe to see the lilies again, withered,
but still hanging on, reaching
their petals toward my waiting body
from behind the screen door,
that lonely picture frame
it tasted like a bee hum in the mouth
brush of silk wings against tongue
stinger embedded in cheek lining.
that’s what happened when i swallowed
something that didn’t belong anymore
to my gluttonous stomach
the residual honey clinging to my teeth
a sour-sweet reminder of the sphere
where i was queen
if, from a lightning bug light
you could summon from the sun
enough energy to pass through
these dusk shadowed days
no need would wither
your green silk
or hasten you to unfold
your compact buds
to bask in a lamp orb
or balance on the bow of a bent beam
of fluorescent flicker.
but since energy
can only be caught
from an unpolluted sun
cracked window blinds
are your truest friend
and the pale puff
from your bereaved breath
(if you had a way to breath)
on the sun tinted glass
would mark the only sign
of life within your wilted leaves.