On Seeing Swans at the Embassy Suites
I wasn’t expecting swans.
You were partial to dark corners
oaken Algonquin lounges smoky
with cigarettes and specters, stories
we spilled across the bar,
but that night you offered swans
their pearled splendor indelible,
dappled promise of what our lives
together could have been—
long necked beauties swimming
through a basin of years,
years that carried the cost
of captivity, clipped wings
left to glide though water
pumped fresh with oxygen
and chlorine that stained
what was once pristine
until only the remembrance of flight
Propelled us forward.
We never did go back to see them
and the property has since changed hands,
but I’d like to think memory is enough,
that we lost them
not because we proved unworthy
but because beauty moves on.
* * *
When You Ask About Karen
It’s easier to diagnose her
as a mere side effect
consequence of post-partum
that tethered me to interiors
for weeks, until her call,
thoughts of her enough to heat water
wash away breast milk and spit-up
isolation I wore every day
replaced with the waft of want.
Easier to say we were
nothing more than sheets drenched
with infection we called love,
strain of lust I was ripe for contracting,
than admit I signed up
for her auburn-tressed trial,
ignored the warnings,
because I thought I knew the risks.
Easier to say she did not matter,
deny that there were some mornings
when only her coffee-laced
phone call coaxed me out bed
rather than tell you I believed in us
with the innocence of a girl
I never was.
Easier to say I never think of her
that no splinter remains, no
tiny cross-stitched space
within the expanse of heart
that now carries your name.