that I ran into my friend Vic was a good thing
because we leaned on the shadowy cars and he gave me
some new words: Faith, Reconciliation, Continuance.
But driving home, they began to fill me up with grief
so I tossed them out the window like a finished cigarette.
And I went down to talk to the creek, who was filled with a grief
of her own, a grief of too much water having fallen
in too few days. And she had me dash my empty beer bottles
against her tortured stones that night, had me make
the shrill cry of a hawk as I let each one fly.
And with each crash she gave me back my former words,
my old & tarnished words, the fs and ts
honed sharp enough to really hurt somebody bad. And sharp
enough to hack a trench into my chest, so the water could roll in
like freshened blood, roaring the way it roars against
the creekstones: girl you're alive, alive, alive . . .
I call the creek a woman because she had a woman's wisdom,
a woman's bitter tears, even had the housewife's old cliché
about how all love ends in either death, or separation
from those we love. And the creek made me remember
how they want you to believe the only way off the meathook
is by dying first.
She said: *whatever you do, whatever you do
don't let yourself be the one who dies first.
Taken from Lucia Perillo's first collection of poems, "Dangerous Life"
Northeastern University Press --- copywright 1989