You can tell from across the intersection
who's listening to a love song:
windows rolled up, eyes shut to the red light,
heart idling a little too high - like that woman
in the soundproof studio of her Mazda,
swaying, shaking a moan out of her hair, mouthing
reckless stanzas she really needs
for him to know.
Anyone else can see he isn't there, that he left
early by another route and is skirting
this crossroads of Main and Easy Broad -
A horn startles her, and she
steadies her face, shifts, turns
down the long, thin road toward tonight,
that place where she'll wear her ache like a small
accessory, an edgy brooch
or silk scarf the color of his eyes.
Well, go on, cast the first laugh, but,
after the crushed orchid of the slow dance
and the duet of the shaky ceremony,
have you ever slipped into a love song
anything but alone?
Haven't you had your own episodes
of Ella, lapses into Janis, Top Hit
spasms of honesty speeding away
from the one you loved?
You've never been willing to say
what you've been willing to sing.
Even last night, sunk
in a soft, late chair, you chose a chanteuse,
and, gazing in the mirror of her burgundy voice,
you believed each trompe le coeur she made
with a handful of rhymes and the frank
companionship of a sax.
You wanted to let love have its way
with your words. You wanted to
drown out the bitter
medicine of the moon and jilt
the careful silence, embracing
the naked cry
shameless in another throat.
- Lynn Powell, 'You don't know what love is' from Zones of Paradise
I have seen the arrested shrub- Heidy Steidlmayer, 'Scree' in Poetry
inform the crag with grief.
Lichens crust the rocks with red.
Thorns punctuate the leaf.
Sorrow is not a desert
where one endures the other—
but footing lost and halting
step. And then another.
(see also, Mary Jo Bang's 'You were you are elegy')
After the drowning
the calming waters come
closing a whole that never
Why not take the Champagne flute
dip it in the salty cold
and drink a toast
that never was
- Nikki Giovanni, 'After the Drowning' from Acolytes