Each night I rinse the truck
in the depot off Meserole.
I nod to the other drivers, tuck
my braid in the back of my shirt.
A rat floats through the oil.
Shoe-trees of metal
line the edge of the iris.
Knowing you will love me
almost kills me.
Shipstation, mill whistle:
It’s the glossy icebox
I can’t breathe inside.
* * *
Still Life with Fallen Candles
The chef on the street is butchering something. Light from the cutlery
glints against his skin, like the pink triangles in a kaleidoscope.
Before the ghost market was a ghost market,
it was a way to suspend reality: before the sun was in the sky
it was a bright lozenge rotating in my rib-cage.
Flowers are over-used in poems but that doesn’t change the fact
that they exist, all along the spillery, glimmering
like a miniature solar system. Before it was rape,
it was just a train, barreling down the track, slicing the image of the flowers
in half. Before it was a man, it was a storm, and before that,
it was my father’s voice from outside the womb
yelling at my mother, or the scream of brakes of the car
that nearly killed her, and me, inside.
Before it was a vessel, it was just a boat.
I hear it before I see it: the long slow whistle
tugging upriver, closer and closer, to carry you away.
* * *
Tusk / River
I run my hand down his back, curved and smooth
as a tusk. I think of my deranged brother. I think of the rain
that lifted the river to a new height, that year the water
broke the glass, flushing out the only restaurant in town.
There is still so much I don’t understand, like why men like
sex so much, why they think cumming is some sort of
accomplishment. I want to make it through one day
without wanting to die. I want to be the river
that rises and rises, and moves through the streets
like the hand of God, God who has no jealousy, no fear.
* * *
Love Letter to Future
Loving you was like sucking cola through a straw. It made me sick
about all the other girls. Still,
when I named you God, the world became more manageable.
You dressed like a cleric from the sixteenth
century: a single gold chain hung
over your heart. Outside, sky the color of milk,
rush of water through the bronze pipes in the garden.
Most nights we didn’t have sex, just lounged
around free-styling. And when you got angry,
I laughed, and when you stomped around like a little boy I could see
how happy you were, how happy you were
compared to me.
* * *
It is warm below deck; the bells hurt your ears;
your breath makes the shape of a heart on the window.
You drove here alone, seven hours in a seething rain,
stopping at the border only to buy coffee
and a bag of Doritos. Above deck, your cousins
and second-cousins acknowledge one another politely
before turning back to their books. You heard
them earlier, gossiping on the dock
like hungry dogs, wanting to know about you,
about the hospital. In this fog you can’t see the islands:
they float past like strangers. Or you float
past them, glowing, one hand to the glass.