Poetry

MY DROWNED LOVER’S SOUL INHABITS MY DOG

I dream of Todd, of touching
his wool jacket and it feels
like my dog. I tell him
I love him. I say it freely,

 

easily, the way I tell my dog.
He looks through me, doesn’t speak,
his blue eyes filled with the sea.

 

Along the shore
a picket fence leans. Windblown
it no longer separates land
and water, only earth and sky.

 

I turn to the water, tell it there is
something wrong with that fence,
the way it keeps its ear to the sand.

 

The fence replies, I am still a fence—
but one that no longer takes sides.

 

Some say our souls lose their
boundaries when we die, free
to become footprints
that come and go.

 

I look into the water’s eye,
blue as the eye of my dog
and realize the wave repeats
what it hears.
I say, stay.

 

Morning, I wake to sounds
of ball play in my yard.
I slip into a white silk robe,
study myself in the mirror.

Come, I say. Come inside.

YOU SAY THE KITCHEN IS YOUR COUNTRY

after Jane Hirshfield, for my grandmother Sittu

In your kitchen where parsley
was washed, the scent lingers

 

as earth must hold for a long time
the verdant scent of grass.

 

In a stainless basin,
the current gathers
clouds of sand, rinse of rain—

 

Lebanese cedar,
Mediterranean waters.

 

Yes, I’m a Michigan girl
of lush peninsula, lake fed,

 

one who, you say, shares your blood
but not your soil—

 

Yet, in my kitchen where parsley is washed
the parsley scent lingers

 

as one who’s borrowed your apron
knows the deep smell of your hands.

 

Parsley—sweet baqdounas
sprig and fringe rising,
tabouli salad, iggi omelet,

 

did I invite you in
with thoughts of fenceless gardens?

 

As one who straddles the gate
between our green oases—

 

as hunger migrates on massive wings

 

as one who circles
between home and home.

TO LEAN

Having injured
my shoulder
I dream
of racing
down the Thames,
part of a crew,
sixteen-oared,
octuple scull,
long slender shell,
symmetrical,
keelless
feet fixed
seats glide,
lock and socket,
stiff-armed
sweep of oars—
lift of water,
bracing
smooth—
a lubricant
to be part of
this synchrony,
able to lean
on others, ride
the breastbone
of a bird,
without wings or
even a feather.

DEMENTIA WALKS INTO A BAR

De men are in dementia, don’t cha see,
and should you anagram it further you’ll find
a dime for a matinee with a maiden
who isn’t a meanie. All sound better
than Alzheimer’s. Al’s Heimer. What’s
a heimer, anyway? Urban dictionary says
a girl who plays a guy without having
any real interest in him. Poor Al. And

 

what about jingleheimer, those annoying tunes
you can’t get out of your head? Or dingleheimer,
a dingbat with a crusty dingleberry mustache
like Hitler. There’s also dingledodie Kerouac’s
word to describe those with a madness born
of passion: But then they danced down the street
like dingledodies. . .

 

better than dinglefoot,
that’s when you step in dog shit with bare
feet and get a case of the dinglefoot
which is what I’m doing now, stepping in it.
Because dementia is no laughing matter,
even though I’m trying to find a way for it to be.

 

Have you heard the one about the guy who sees
a doctor for a checkup? “I have bad news, you
have cancer and dementia.” The man
replies, “well, at least I don’t have cancer.”