Her grandsons ran naked
hopped in her fountain
Stepped out in boldness,
made footprints on brick.
They were laughing,
jumping in and out,
dancing at her wheelchair.
Her headscarf got wet.
When designs disappeared
the small one asked
Why does nothing last?
Evaporation, she said.
Never heard of it! he said.
She explained the way liquid
can change to air,
drawn to the sky
like rain in reverse,
She is crushing on a younger guy after many conversations about things like the brain’s musical notations or quinoa recipes. His round face, wire rims almost ubiquitous, almost like every young man at work. She tells her husband about the crush, he thinks it’s probably good for her. When she talks to her crush she forgets to feel old. After a few weeks she thinks maybe she loves him, not in an older-woman-stalking kind of way, but in a spiritual sense. Part of her just wants to be him, or wants him to be part of her. It feels harmless, the way they talk, laugh. When her crush dies unexpectedly, she plunges into a strange mourning. She doesn’t cry, doesn’t dream of him but begins to walk with a limp. Nothing hurts, her body just wants to limp, as though nursing a sprain. Her husband comes with her to the service. Standing-room only, a cacophony of hipsters, young families, matrons. Friend after friend goes forward to talk about his gardening groups, his Sunday afternoon maitais, the concerts. Madonna, how the man loved Madonna. His mother cries, asking everyone to cherish his memory, the dad goes next and says some memories are bull. Divorced yet still they hug. Toward the end when the theater gets dusky and people shift around, shredding damp tissues, she feels overcome with a need to talk, to declare how beautiful he was to her, how she is learning to walk again. A woman near her speaks out, saying almost exactly what she wanted to say, using words she would have chosen. Outside the Rialto afternoon light crystallizes in prisms against the theater’s deco façade. Her crush’s partner is smoking, leaning against the pillars. He comments to everyone who passes, This is my last one, I swear.
No one knows whether
this is our only life
even when things like
two people who
are crazy about foliage
drive for hours
to wonder at colors
and the juice of apples
they stop to pick
at orchards that charge
too much per pound
thinking they could do this
forever yet they are hungry
and head home for
they eat while standing
and watching the other,
what they always do.
I want to tell you I walked today
fantasizing about new love,
the man was you but not you,
I was me but not me as well,
around the lake for hours like this,
listening to the crush of acorns,
grasping bittersweet from branches,
carrying the tangled strands.
I couldn't look away from everything
losing itself into nakedness
as though old brilliance were unimportant.
This was not a landscape of death,
only heaviness falling from trees.
I remembered how we used to walk
without purpose, as though
we required large terrain,
sometimes never stopping until
the wind pulled back. Renaming
one another in the quiet, bodies
covered in bloom.
The family down the street moves out,
leaving their wooden gate open:
I can see the porch's torn couch,
the yard's patch of dirt
where she grew tomatoes.
Morning Glories are taking over.
One summer Block Party she asked
for the secret to my chocolate cake.
This is the best dessert of my life! she said.
I promised to give her the recipe
but I never did. When
her husband hanged himself,
I sent a note, Please let me know
if I can do anything.
Now they are gone. I would leave, too.
There is a football in the grass.
Even at rush hour the freeways are lonely.
Everyone and no one. They were on the 110.
Then they were in the lot, the contractions
quickening. Aren't you ready, people
were saying. It looks like it's time.
A world noticing, its hands on her body,
Walking through automated doors,
not looking back,
grasping her husband's hand
when a woman nearby cried out.
She wanted to turn away from her magnificent
breathing, the sear of muscles bonded
in enterprise, thinking the lights above
were stadium brights. Don't try to look,
someone was saying.
But she looked at how simple she was,
stripped of everything but longing.
Around her the people talked about cars
and the upcoming weekend. She knew
they wanted her to keep going.
To hold on, then, when they said, not to
hold on, not to hold back any more.