ARROW

An arrow, even Cupid’s, carries a slant of sorrow at its tip.

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The thump it makes when hitting mark is felt across the space: an arrow straight to the heart.

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In the space between the letting go and arrival there is grace.

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The longer the shot, the greater the loft. This is the world of gravity.

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Each arrow learns the pain of time and space, the small corruptions altering its course. None ever made a bull’s eye.

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When you pull back the bow, left arm extended as far as it can go right hand holding nock near chin, back arched, in that moment before the arrow’s launched, stretched to your limit, I find you beautiful.

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Pierced through by your arrow I bleed bliss, unable to staunch the wound.

*

If there was not an arrow, this life would be a narrow and harrowing existence.

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CLOTHESLINE

They used to dance
flapping in the wind
holding on by a wooden pin,
my entire family
disembodied
but recognizable
puffed up with breeze
hips swaying, arms gyrating
twisting and bending with apparent ease,
then deflated
chests concave
skeletal thin
scarecrows without hay.

I’d steal in for a closer view
and when wind blew
let a frilly slip
lifted by the breeze
hang over me,
or move my face against
the smooth silk of girls’ underpants
dyed in pastel pinks and blues.

I’d rest on the grass and watch
the clothes talk back and forth,
the way an arm would reach
over to a fellow sleeve, a sashaying
skirt hip bump a prim and proper
flowered dress, the wild postures
the wind would bring, the clothes
asleep when breeze retreated.

The smell of air dried clothes
is still fresh in my nose, and those
wooden pins I pressed to imitate
chattering birds then pulled apart,
the spring stinging my fingers, gone,
as are all the lines that stretched
across my childhood’s backyard.

AT SEA

When night is foggy, when land is lost from view,
when only foghorns sounding give the sailor
a clue toward dangerous rocks and peril, when
murky weather makes stopping hazardous
and forward progress a risk, when charts and
radar give little comfort, there is nothing
else to do but moor on the vast plain
of waves, to let out line to search blind eyed
for ground, to batten down hatches and go
inside, and there in dark, wait, to sit
out long night, the cresting swells that lift
and drop, the haze that smells of salt and rot
and reaches in through holds thought secured,
the lurching right and left, the creaking beams,
unsteady lamp that swings with flickering light,
the minutes that in day evaporate
but now muggy with memory, last,
ticking away all that went wrong and right,
decisions made, love lost, the parabola
of a life that grew and grew, the wave of promise.

STREAKED WINDOWS

When rain is caught on the window in
small drops, drip by drip slipping down
the glass like falling tears that linger on
the skin, finding hold in the hollows shaped
by covered bone, not absorbed but stopped, like thoughts
suspended or a hand reaching out pulled back,
then too much to be stayed, drops, streaking
the cheek with watery stain, drawn downward by
gravity until vanished from face, the drops pooling
on the window sill, a small pond of pain.

A FALL

Fruit falls: a thud; the sound so loud that all
alone I turn for cause: could something
so small resound so loudly? No great height,
no great weight; the ground reverberates.
They fall: like bowling pins; like dominoes;
like soldiers shot. When atomic bombs reach ground
they show no sound on screen: just the mushroom
eating up the space. The mind fills in
the screams. It’s June, it’s warm, I shake.

POPPIES (4)

When we haven’t seen each other
        for hours, or it can be days, the hubbub
of life so busy that even in the same house

I can’t find you, I long for that time in early
        morning when the sun arching over
the earth finds the poppies, and

softly kissing closed bud convinces
        lips to yield, tonguing
lightly the golden petals until

mouth, hungry for the radiant
        light and its insistent pleasure,
fully opens.