In the orange ozone of blush desert
among slant-faced grasshoppers and lizards,
I’m dandelion disenchantment and
a hymn flickering to firefly heaven.
I’m a diamond girl in a salad bowl,
a page torn out of a landscape, a song
lamented. I am blurred nostalgia.
I am a chameleon, dreaming change.
In the tattered fog of morning glories,
tinkling silver bangles intoxicate
and entice me like hyacinth incense
from my faithful cornfield complacency,
from my straightjacket simplicity days
of middle-aged motherhooded marriage.
I become a table-dancing wildcat,
a nomad of our emerald-green earth.
I become a river-riding cowgirl
and a chinook wind unraveling snow.
I’m a capricious ramble of crooked
corridors — like I used to be in youth.
Then the quiet roar of the garage door
snaps me back to black and white prediction
of wrinkled burlap skin and silver-tipped
medium brown hair of oblivion.
~March 10, 2001
In polar waters of midnight sun,
their underwater voices clamor,
tapioca-thick in August ice.
The sequestered men, blue fingertips
all desperation, scrawl final words,
claw at the curved walls of the Kursk,
invincible metal tomb.
Barents Sea inhabitants, alarmed
anemones, urchins and sea squirts
stare in silence at the groaning,
clanking immensity in their midst.
On the surface of the frozen ocean,
gulls and terns wail a ruby rhapsody.
The Russians, sluggish and secretive,
tell inept lies in whirlpool circles
while time, breathtakingly, slips away.
In memory of the Russian submarine, The Kursk, sunk in the Barents Sea 12 August 2000
~ October 2, 2000
SHE WHO WAS ONCE THE
HELMET-MAKER’S BEAUTIFUL WIFE
A sculpture by August Rodin 1880-85 at The Hirshhorn, Washington, D.C.
Her skin flows –
down her frail neck, rib cage, legs –
then solidifies, bronzed.
Gravity – hypnotic –
tugs at her deflated breasts. Punctuated
by sunken nipples, invisible aureoles, they lounge
against her ribs, her tired mound of belly.
Her hair hangs in a horseshoe on her back.
Her kneecaps jut in knotted knobs, dark
and pockmarked as peppercorns.
The pitted surfaces of her skin
refract the museum light,
deflect her despair
to her companions – Crouching Woman,
Head of Sorrow, Kneeling Woman Combing Her Hair.
The Hirshhorn docent points at her,
while students scribble in notebooks,
raincoats tossed over their arms.
Rodin insists she was once beautiful,
and maybe she was, but today
and until bronze disintegrates,
her essence hides within a craggy oyster shell,
pearly, air-thin bones under loose-fitting skin.
Inside her hollows, she just remembers
wandering to her husband’s shop
on woolen summer evenings,
moonlight glancing off canary grass,
a whippoorwill’s lament in liquid air.
on her skin as she watched his shoulders
strain in the light from the fire.
She silently slid her fingers over the cool ridge
of a helmet, her own reflection – beguiling –
in the metal-mirror curve.
She loved to seduce him on those ancient evenings,
the helmets – like a crowd
of floating, gleaming heads – peering
as she and her husband
made tangled love
on the dusty floor.
~ July 12, 2001