Only yesterday, I leaned out
over the edge of this table,
stretching to retrieve the saucer.
Shattered, the gilt rim spun
away from its broken centre.
This morning the cup,
its red Russian horse galloping
toward the lip, warms my hands.
Earlier, when it happened,
when your hand touched my face,
your fingers descending from the temple
along cheekbone, under an eye. . .
Slowly, I thought about tenderness.
That it’s not the command desire brings
but conversation in its most elemental form.
Not unlike music as it enters the body.
First through vibration then,
momentarily, absorbed in bone.
I wanted finches,
two little red-headed songsters
so one wouldn’t mourn away
the day and die of loneliness
and lack of love. But the wire cage
disturbed me too much like the mesh
of my mother’s brain and her
wavering disbelief that she no longer
makes the obvious connections,
the wires of her brain dulled
pale then bright, then pale again
like birdsongs gone weak
when the cage door is stuck.
Today, it is raining language:
A song constant and repeating
yet never tiresome—Sitting at ease near
Mother, the husband, long dead, gives
advice. She listens then recounts her story of scrub
jays making a nest in the oleander, how the female
scares trespassers away with her multiple squawkings.
Hear the rain as it pours and wind
slanting water curtains across the street as if to
wash away futility. Listen to the synapses of rain
miss each other.
Give in to what cannot be remembered
nor understood. Look carefully at Mother, receding
behind the curtain, translucent.
I wanted finches, two of them,
red-headed and lovely sounding.