First Story of Marriage
With a misread line from Richard Hugo
In your hands, I am twelve small stones you throw at your giant in the yard. I am in a redwood tree in the high winds where I’ve grown into an owl’s dress. My changes are frightening, you say, but my beak conceals a sugary tongue. Molt me, I tell you: a bird in the house never scared you before. I am growing small enough to perch on your hand, to live in this landscape of circuits. You can’t explain me – I am your sapling. I’ve got my hands green around you now.
Child, darkening our door, darken our door. Little limbs the lintel, barest light through the jambs and latch. Twinkling cells hinge up to knock, then don’t after all, dissolve and disperse. Yet hover like chimes the wind rings, wind rings. Your entire life fits inside my iris. My pupil is what grows when I put my hands to the door. Won’t you come back, little girl, little world? Surprise me like the ladybug I found yesterday swimming around my thumb. I put her on the windowsill, poised on the brink of our house. I forgot to see – did she fly out?
We Are Quiet Enough To Bloom Now
No one is so interested in desire or love. Everyone has shivered with it or has tasted it often enough through the teeth – sweet cold water. You can’t compare it to murder or fire again, though its shape is windblown, then bruised at the throat. Our whispering turns to great guns because your last name means a kind of pistol. When I take your syllables in my mouth, you moan. Even our shyness has its bite.
There’s your crows, you said. But it’s not crows I long for. I don’t want to pepper the air with my legion of sisters — too often their fallen babies wet and featherless on the ground. I don’t want their august lives. When you point to their black order sifting themselves wildly into the tall oaks at dusk, I think – do you know three girls have their fists in me? At my hips each grips salt as if diamonds, each pushes to get her whole body in. With their free hands, they shake their cans of baby teeth. You can see the dark trees take them in and their black bodies in the distance become just more rustling leaves. In such stillness there is brotherhood. Crows shake dust from their feathers, positive of relief. Going on they go without what’s fallen because to be still is not their calling. No, not even this sky now – open of crows and light – not even these hours alone. Those crows, I know, are just sleeping in the trees.