your beautiful lips—

how is it I so often bring you

an empty cup?

After Waking

Beneath our boat

a swimming bear—

I tell myself to be afraid

but I’m too delighted

by its brown body,

elongated and sleek

moving like a wave itself

in the clear, clear water.

A marriage, too,

is a boat. Or is it

the bear?

Or is it the man

and the woman

in the boat,

watching beneath them

the most exquisite

dangerous thing,

something that could kill them

but chooses instead


The field is full of sweet clover.

This is the truest line I can write.

There was a time when,

with discriminating precision,

I cleared this field of sweet clover,

preferring only rushes and grass.

Now, after a rain-rich spring

and a sweltering summer,

the deep field is startlingly aglow

with millions of tiny yellow flowers.

The field full of sweet clover is beautiful.

This is an opinion.

A woman can think what she wants to think.

Sometimes her thoughts think her.

Beautiful. Not beautiful.

This argument stretches

past the open field.

Sweet clover has a taproot

is difficult to pull up when the earth is dry.

This is a fact.

In a woman, there are ten thousand

tap-rooted lies about how she looks

and who she is. If she pulls one up,

and even a bit of the lie remains,

it comes back twice as vigorous.

The field is full of sweet clover.

There is something so comforting

about knowing it is true,

so comforting I say it again.

The field is full of sweet clover.

There are thousands of honeybees.

The field is full of sweet clover.

I look into it like a mirror.

I had worn it so long, that mask,

I didn’t notice it no longer fit.

In fact, I didn’t notice I wore it at all.

Every day I woke up wearing the mask.

I wore it all day, then returned to bed wearing

the mask. I don’t even remember putting it on,

what, was it as a child? Slowly, we come

to take habit as truth. Besides, on the outside,

it was pretty enough. Placid and happy.

It was only today I noticed how on the inside,

the mask had hair of snakes, how I was being

surely turned to stone. I did not want

to break the mask. I did not know

what the face beneath it might be.

I was afraid to not like what I saw.

There is a call to be ruthless, our hands

rising to do what must be done,

though some voice we thought

was our own shouts at us to stop.

And there is another voice. Perhaps

you’ve heard it, too. I notice

it’s easier to hear it when the mask

isn’t covering my ears. It’s strange

today to walk down the street.

I don’t know what I might say.

I don’t know what I might do.

One Confession

hold me, I say

then put on a dress

of thorns—

blood on your cheek, your hands,

I kiss you there

By Nature

perky and open

despite the bad news—

isn’t that just like a daisy

Something is eating the peas in the garden.

It doesn’t actually eat them, just chews them off

where the stems meet the dirt. The plants

are left dead on the ground beside

the nubs of stems. All the more reason,

why we must hold each other tenderly.

Every day so much that is growing

is lost, seemingly for nothing. When

I planted the seeds, I wasn’t thinking

of metaphors. I thought only of peas.

Now, it’s impossible to stand in the garden

and be only beside the ravaged vines.


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