Happiness has just walked into the room and I don’t know how he looks to you
but to me he’s wearing the t-shirt you wore outside pruning the fruit tree.
When I come close—how can I not?—he smells of dirt you’ve been turning in
How do I know he’s not an imposter? Echo happiness? Or that those pretty lips
have any interest in sticking around? What was it our favorite Greek,
“If you desire a fig, I answer you that there must be time.”
Sometimes, after winter, after the burlap is unwrapped, the limbs really
What are we going to do knowing not everything makes it?
Or some years, too much, a littered mess of squishy fruit.
I don’t know if you catch Happiness whistling the Rhythm Revue hit
I’m hearing or if those low sugar notes seem too easy
and make you want to take off or dig quiet beds in the garden till dark.
It’s an old joke by now, isn’t it. What’s to be scared of? Everything.
Call me a two-time loser. I’ll still shimmy. Call me gullible when the Good Day
tucks us in. If by morning there’s a late frost, I’ll shiver then.
I like standing at night next to you brushing my teeth.
There, in the mirror, you, perfectly backwards.
Victoria Redel is the author of Woman Without Umbrella, her third collection of poetry.