In my locker, shadow-books hovered behind the vents.
I pried one open; mirrors and hair gel.

Fourth period, the class solved for x. I studied
a boy’s neck, soft down and new scent.

Indian summer. Mown grass, peat dust,
fields cut to scrub and burn. The dust

blew into corners, between pages,
down the main hall and up the one mountain.

It covered everything. It was another thing.

I memorized theorems, I breathed through the vents.
I thought in sentences.

It settled shallow and broad, like water,
or like oil on water before you shake the jar.




  I woke to full code five, perfect iambic
in the upswell. That gift, the taste
of which we’re lucky enough
to know, if we’re lucky enough—

I should have written it down (I must have
written it down), but. When the earth
closed over I had old envelopes, I had
piles of scrawl. Little tearings at the edges.

The first time—like a secret—I was supposed
to be doing something else. What was supposed
to be my (fine) mind moved,
                                             but crosswise—

a deep beneath days
of classroom, bedroom, lawn. The sound
folding in the rows and then
that one hum, low and sliding:

                                                it felt
like grief (or what I thought grief
would feel like). Taste on my tongue,
turn in my gut. The burn and lurch of it.

And then it was again, or now,
gone (seeing as I hadn’t missed it
until). The world came back,
the dirty linoleum. One shoe squeaking

against the other. I had a new sweater,
a lunch break, a test. I had a sister
and a lock on the door.
                                     I lived from then

for the next chance, straight shot of now
in the chatter. It opened up,
it held the pearl. I slipped back down
through a hole in the net.





Apart? you asked reading the gold stencil
on the door. No, open, I translated
then you took my coat
and hung it on the wall and then
there was the business with the chair
both of us pulling it out at once and I wanted
your touch again on the small of my back
that hand-shaped spot reaching out, measuring
the exact distance to your hand
some unimaginable interval (like that arrow
approaching zero that keeps splitting the air
but never arrives)

you sat down
and we drank some water and ordered some wine
and the waitress came back
with the wine balancing the two red globes
just stood there while we negotiated
the spinach salad or the soup, and should I
have the fish (you always got the pasta)
and she stood there garnet light
levitating above her hands
and she said: are you two married
because if you’re not you should be
and in the silence I said
no we’re not even
dating and she said I’m sorry and
almost spilled the wine in your lap:
two red orbs with the light gone out.