Two Swans

The days shorten, the nights arrive sooner now. I find myself dreaming about what it might be like to see him again. I would walk into the room and from a distance we would lock eyes, approach each other, I might press my face into his neck as he did the same, two swans bowing into one another in recognition, in a ceremony of forgiveness of past transgressions. His and mine.

In my dream he is a picture of health, of athleticism – the way I remember him during our early days. In my dream he has been off drugs for several years now, has struggled to find his way back but has finally made a life for himself. A life I can return to and immerse myself in.

“Where have you been?” he asks, as if I am the one who left so many years ago, but the gentleness in his tone acknowledges he had been absent long before I pushed myself from the couch that last night.

“I’m here now.”

My limbs are around his shoulders, my fingers graze the hair at the nape of his neck.

“I’ve missed you.” It is all I can say.

In this thick, tangible closeness there is no kiss, there are no undertones as in so many other dreams, but there is the simple, loving bowing into one another. As I move to rest my forehead against his shoulder I remember that the warmth on my face is not another human, but a cotton pillowcase in a floral pattern of beige and white. It is my own breath, my own skin, against my own bedding. He is dead.

He has been dead now for three weeks.

***

I dreamed once more: of being horseback, of loping across uncut fields, deep green at the start of spring, grasses pushed in rhythmic waves by the wind. The horse rocks in even stride, the rider in perfect balance, the pleasure of movement that in waking life comes only rarely. Perhaps like coasting downhill on a bicycle as a child.

When I awoke I wanted to be a child again.

(Summer 2016)

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Join Me in the Lake

Heat of summer, forever-long afternoons
of sun bearing down almost violently
have turned the lake into a warm bath.
Dark comes and this is the place to which we drive.

Four of us share this night, now a tepid oven.
Our group walks, laughing, along two edges:
where city park meets lapping water, and
where youth rushes too soon into adulthood.

The sky is black, the distant hills flicker
with neighbors’ white house lights, and
somewhere nearby is the whir of the freeway.
I do not think we can be seen

and so I remove my clothes
and wade in, up to my small naked belly
at which point I turn back to see you
still standing on the shore.

Someday when you are free enough to
revel in a night swim, then I will know,
though I will not at first say it aloud,
that I have seen myself in someone else.

(March 2, 2019)

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Woman’s Intuition

They say rain will come tomorrow
but I sense it will arrive overnight,
and before the newly birthed day
looks up to find it has become morning
– during the intimate crevice between
ends and beginnings – I may wake
to the sound of the earth
washing itself in the dark.
This is what my bones say.
I am woman.
I feel what is to come.

And you: will you return?
The child thumping across my chest,
bending my ribs, a streak
of anxious wanting coursing in my arms
says this is not the time to plant,
when the soil still needs turning.
Again, I wake in the motionless hours
and consider the intimate spaces.
I long for them as ground for rain.
I must wash myself of this.
I am woman.
I feel what is to come.

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In My Peripheral

I know you by your footsteps
by the cadence of
your body
in the corner of my eye,
moving into view
barely
brushing against my peripheral.
I know you by the electricity
in my back
in my shoulders, buzzing
as nested wasps stir
when the outside world
draws too near;
all the while
immovable
– the hushed hunter –
waiting for the right moment.
I wish I would
not think of it as an attack.
Even the quietest hello
is not so easy.

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