I drive through the yellow ribcage of maples
arching the road, past the butch woman I want
to be, raking leaves in her front yard, hair
slicked back at the sides. Yesterday, searching
the internet for winter tights, I found crotchless ones,
a model’s diffident fingertips barely obscuring
the hairless glow of her pussy, and remembered
the years I spent lying on a table in a quiet room,
piped sound of harps descending from the ceiling,
while some other woman carefully made my body
as smooth and unthreatening as a child’s.
I ask the river if he were Rizal what he would be.
A boat on a river or a river in a boat.
Would Rizal rather be in the belly of a whale
or have a whale in his belly. I ask Rizal
as if he were a river and he never blinks
or makes smacking sounds to register his disapproval.
The soapy drench is physics drawn to river toward me, 15 feet away in my flimsy chair. At first its body fans to deliver brims to concrete sinks I had not glimpsed, then narrows to speed unveiling dips and bellies, then courses on to a hole with a remnant pool anchored by a cigar butt. A halt belies its reaches. A lump has pushed the grey drool around the promised lake in delta featherings while another drive has passed beneath my seat to rest in my colossal shadow, clearing its slate of suds. The flow now ponds in the heat and readies its ghost mirror to catch me, gray in noon’s appraisals, the reaper of the day.
The flatteries of the surf conspire to make
a stammering innuendo in the reeds.
The sun, splintered by the spume’s refractions,
sinks toward the west where it will disappear
in a violet streak above the evening dunes,
like mind considering the defeat of mind.
A cormorant in the distance breaks the surface
to wrestle a mullet from the sullen depths
farther below which no light penetrates.
In those days, everyone had the right to have feelings.
It was natural to feel things, and the right thing to do about your feelings was to make them known. Feelings were plenty, but broadly they were segregated into two groups: Love and Fear.
In those days, there was only one way you could sin: by faking your feelings.
The city overwhelmed us. We’d moved to it from a smaller part of the country, fairly rural, though it’s true that even rural parts of the country had by that time much in common with urban centers. In our small town there was a Walmart and high-speed internet and a bar that boasted craft beers from across the region. An intimate and well-known musical venue often featured prominent artists, and, as the woman I lived with always found loudness distasteful, I would attend these shows alone. Being at one, the gathered fans swaying together, made it easy for me to feel like there could be nowhere better. But also, circling the edges of the town, fields ran hundreds of miles in all directions, lush with the green stalks of corn and soy undulating over a landscape that, in winter, shriveled and turned dead, brown, and brittled.