What to Wear While Reading This Poem
Clown-print pajamas and a bowl of cereal.
Champagne and a petticoat.
Dry martini and a pushup bra.
Red Keds that kick open
the wide arc of the sky.
In the evening, rare steak. White
shirt buttoned down.
Crisp collar, a glacier, naked
at the throat.
Hide the bloodstain
and the blue-green thumbprint
lurking like a thief
at the collar’s starched edge.
For the dance, wear a rosebud,
pinned in place by a teardrop,
plastic pearl frozen
and glued to its needle.
And at 2 a.m., your mother’s bathrobe, its wake
of perfume, cigarette smoke and booze.
The sharp, starry shapes she points to.
Her cold kiss. The hiss
of this imperfect microphone.
Raspberries and Goldfish
After a painting by Janet Fish
Leggy nasturtiums and curtains billowing
with air. This is summer—this life
is not still. A honeyed
presence, the clean translucent plates, stacks
of green glass, circles of nasturtium light.
Orange and blood and lemon-colored petals,
each blossom sprouting
its single honeyed horn.
Is it morning or afternoon?
Who picked these flowers that lean
out from their vase on such slender,
wobbling, bee-dizzy stems?
Who brought this cool blue offering—a silver
bowl of berries, each one brushed with a faint
dust of summer, each one its own private
room of pinkish light?
There are multiple worlds here, one
in which the wind is caught
by dotted swiss that swells, shifts,
flutters to hold it, then waves
to let it go. There is the goldfish
gulping wide-eyed one moment,
There is the tongue’s simple
longing for a mouthful
of ripe berries—to linger
on that sweetness until it disappears.
Finally, there is a generosity
of shadow, veins of a dark
river that rise to give us exactly
what we see:
It makes the curtains float, it gives
the berries weight. Its black circle
holds the gleam
in the eye of the vigilant fish.