Boy (an imaginary child)

He (yes, a he)
was conceived in love
long after our own children were grown
and starting families of their own.
His eyes were golden brown like yours
and he never needed glasses
or contact lenses or braces
or help with his homework
and he didn’t need us to explain ourselves
when we told him how sorry we were
he wasn’t a bigger part of our lives.
He accepted
that we created him in our imaginations—
in our likeness
with a mind of his own
that led him to believe that if he’d had a body
he could have done anything he wanted to
including fall in love
with three women who were wrong for him
before he found the right one—
and they might have joked about
what it would be like if they’d had a child
if only there was more time,
more life left to spend getting right
all those things you and I
got so wrong.





“Nicholas” by Andrew Wyeth, 1956

Nothing Left to Say

to have nothing left to say
to have said it all

everything I feel
out there
in black and white

my heart gushing
onto a screen
resting in my lovers’ hand

all the right words
have been polished
in the tumbler of my heart

poured out
into this silence
that will keep me awake







“Compartment C Car” by Edward Hopper, 1938

No One Is Going To Die

You are friendless
on a night
it would be helpful
to have someone intervene
and interrupt your sorrow
and take away the bottle
that is almost as empty
as your heart—
so all you can do
is pretend you see a light
at the end of this dark tunnel
where he waits for you
the man who could erase
your tears just by existing
a little closer
to where you are








It’s 92 degrees outside
and you are chilled to the bone
as if your body believes
you are at the base
of a melting ice cap
and you are
treading water
as it rises
if it
for the alcohol
you’d be frozen solid
because he isn’t coming back
to warm you, thaw you or carry you away
into a future that will go down
in the history books
as anything
but empty
like the landscape
a glacier leaves behind.







Botany Lesson

Boneset and Snakeroot.
Black-eyed Susan and Yellow Coneflower.
Fernleaf Phacelia and Jacob’s Ladder—
wild beauties so similar
that I wanted to start paying attention
to the subtle differences—
differences that wouldn’t confuse
a botanist whose life was spent
studying the details
of leaves and stems
and the number of petals
that differentiate Rue Anemone
from False Rue Anemone.
And because learning takes time
it shouldn’t upset me
that I couldn’t identify
the man in my bed as toxic,
because he tasted sweet
like the wild raspberries
we picked in the woods—
but his thorns are still lodged in my skin
like a lesson I never thought
I’d need to learn—
but if I hadn’t wandered
into that forbidden garden
I would never have been able to recognize love
as unmistakable as Bloodroot and Firepink.
Love fragrant as Bluebells,
perennial and white as Shooting Stars.










Thing is—
over isn’t over.
is when
you begin to realize
there will be
to come after you
to learn him
love him
teach him new tricks
in the kitchen
in the garden
in bed—
and you will be brick-hit
by his happiness—
the happiness
you swore
you’d do anything
to cause
or create—
even if it meant





You see them everywhere:
Alone at the corner table.
Solo at the Sunday afternoon matinee.
Walking the adorable puppy
along 10th Street.
Attending the gallery opening
on Friday night
wearing shoes with ‘unapproachable’
written all over them.
Sometimes you pass
the match of your dreams
on a hike in the woods
and make the kind of eye contact
that says it’s too bad we’re moving so fast
in opposite directions.
And most of these people
would like to be one half
of a couple in love,
except for the one
with whom you’re smitten–
that strange and beautiful
sculpture of a man
whose desires are so abstract
there is no way to tell if he’s afraid of love
or just committed to a life
that will never include it.