Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Shoe's Tale, Part II

The shoe went missing again last night. This time there was a clue, perhaps: a hellacious, snarling fight outside my bedroom window around midnight, followed by the smell of skunk spray fired at point-blank range. Today the whole house reeked of skunk, and so did my car -- even though it was nowhere near the fight.

After two rounds of searching, I finally found the shoe this afternoon under the back deck and fished it out of there with my nice swan-neck hoe. The shoe is none the worse for wear -- still gray and stiff and, as always after one of these abductions, laced tight to within an inch of its life. Once again, the intruder stole the right shoe. The left one has never been shoenapped.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Poem: A Parking Lot

I stayed kissed.
I said god, god
of the glacier letting go,
god that made the mouths
of Connecticut Valley men
strong after all that
rough weather. Hands
in your pockets, I pulled
you in. The air snapped
its ten-degree
fingers. Couldn’t tell
if every crackmoney tramp 
in town was yours
already, but then—black sky,
blue stars, naked heat
at the fingertip hollow 
of your neck—
that was home,
that was here.
I live there now.
I stayed.

(appeared in Northwest Review, 2008)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Shoe's Tale

I have a mystery. Twice now, some animal has dragged one of my gardening shoes off into the yard at night, swiping it from its usual spot on the back deck. Always the same shoe—the right one. I find it in the morning in some far-flung corner of the yard. There are signs of a struggle: The shoe is filthy, its laces are pulled tight so it looks pinched and strangled, and they’re gray and stiff with what I can only assume is spit.

     I’ve never caught the animal red-handed, so I can only theorize what animal it is, and why it keeps taking my shoe.

     1) It’s a gang of deer who hate humans, and the smell of that shoe just gets their blood boiling. To hell with you humans and your deer fence and your shoe and your shoelaces! We will rip your bloody shoelaces out by the roots! And then we’ll kick down your deer fence and then you won’t be able to put on your shoe so you won’t be able to fix the fence. And then we can eat all the tomatoes we want. Damn, these shoelaces are strong.

     2) It’s a cat who is thrilled to bits that someone has left two perfectly good shoes out in the open. This yard is like a land of miracles—the shoes keeps reappearing, always in the same place. At home, the humans are all very fuss-fuss about putting their shoes in a closet and shutting the door. Whenever the cat makes a grab for a shoelace there, it’s a freakin’ national emergency. There was only that one ruined shoe that one time; it’s not like they didn’t have another.

     3) It’s a raccoon mom who is teaching her kids how to be clever thieves. The lesson always starts off so well—look here! A pair of shoes!—but then descends into chaos and unintentional comedy as she tries to drag the shoe across the deck and into the yard. Jesus, the noise! This heist will wake the dead. And if she gets busted, the kids will never let her forget it. And then one of them—the little wiseacre—says, “But Mom, what will we do with a shoe anyway?” And she realizes—slowly, but with utter clarity and conviction—that she has given birth to children who have no imagination. But by then it’s almost dawn and they’re all full of leftover Mexican food anyway. They will go home and dream of corn tortillas and small banditos.

     The next day I put on my spitty, dirty shoe—that’s why God made socks—and am back in the garden, trying to tell what’s weeds and what’s lettuce. Afterward, I leave the shoes on the porch. In a way, it’s an honor that they’ve been touched by something wild. And, like all of us, they may one day be taken out of the yard, borne off to some other grand adventure. Who am I to hold them back?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Poem: Daughter

Fortune: You will receive a compliment 
from a stranger on Friday

Stranger, was that you
ordering tacos to go
at the long glass counter
steamed with beans and beef,
your daughter in tow,
her hair a weedy lot
betraying her mother gone,
a father with no heart to comb?
There’ll be time enough for chance
in ten or twelve years 
when you’re home alone,
Danny Gatton on the stereo,
a bill from her college
a landmine you found
in the mailbox, this black hole
you birthed—every drink
and dollar and man
falling ever in to her.
And you were lost yourself,
a blue star trailing a train of light,
only visible a moment
that night in the taqueria
as you turned—was it 
my jacket, my earrings?—
before she pulled you back,
you with a laugh for her,
her hair such a godly mess,
her face so bright
she could burn you alive.

(appeared in Northwest Review, 2008)

Poem: Forgetting the Moon

The moon climbed into this poem.
I tried to ignore it
but it looked in through the window
one night and woke me up.
It was throwing all this light
and the snow was soaking it in
and if light were a noise,
the whole backyard
would be talking.

Sometimes for months entire
I forget about the moon. The sky
is an empty pail. How
can the moon come calling
when it has so much to do?
Lovers and tides
will not raise themselves.

But it climbed, I tell you,
in through a closed window,
and if that is too much
of a metaphor, I give you also
my heart, that old lady
in her cold walk-up.
Even she saw the moon —
she has windows, too, you know —
and though it didn’t make
the headlines — moon shines in
through somebody’s window —
I wrote it down
so if you please,
it can happen.
It happened to me.

(appeared in Mudfish, 2009)