"Love Songs in Winter" from Issue 03
At the end of the pier,
light on a rocking boat.
We walked away from land
and our rented cottage.
Beneath us the planks groaned.
I heard myself speaking love words:
Loosed vowels floated
over the smack-putt of water:
We went on walking.
There was nothing to do but approach.
By the river on the artificial island
I led you to a downed tree.
The twisted elm upended
in some winter storm.
Underneath, where roots had been
soil like cinnamon,
a cavern studded with seashells, tailings and decay.
From the rooted part
new spears grew. In the iron light,
mercurial, shifting with March,
they glinted sickly black
then shone red, like a wound.
I took you to the summer-house.
I took you in January.
A tree had fallen on the power lines.
Our heat and pipes were off.
Outside, the light was as I’d never seen it,
northern lavender hovering
over barnacled dinghies.
Winter colors torqued off-kilter:
Phantom emeralds glowered in the granite.
Above the sea the sun was orange sherbet.
Lost amid the ash and gray
the summer paths seemed strange even to me
and in the house, everything was boxed-
silverware in baggies, platters wrapped,
towels mothball-packed away.
Still we lit the brass lamp in the bedroom.
I struck the gas and roasted you a chicken.
I served you wine and oranges.
And underneath the quilts that night,
I tossed, dreaming of mice
nesting in the unstrung double bass.
I felt the brewing storm.
In the dark you came to my doorstep:
The door flapped and flapped in the wind.
Although you slept beside me,
you were outside. You could not get in.