Her $50 hair carouseled about her head
As she turned to mouth me the answer before walking through the screen door.
Her collarbone showed, shouldering through the 5-year linen blouse
She’d bought from an upscale consignment store the same morning she bought
Her second car for less than her parents spent on shoes.
Before I’d seen the sea, I pictured space;
Stars and Galaxies and Ice and Infinite, bigger than I would be and gold,
Hot orange. And quicksilver and crimson. Too white to know, too bright to see.
I dreamt of eyes, thousands. And voices and outstretched, glittered, sweaty fingers
And swirling, sweeping spirits and sad songs about love.
“Please, I need this.” “I need you, please.”
I pictured golden, heavy hands with wine and French cheeses. And clawed, chalky bathtubs
Of marble veined grey, windows bigger than their walls and shiny cherry wood and leather.
I pictured her lips parting and eyes dewy as I drifted to the door because they needed me
And I couldn’t stay any longer, I’d already stayed too long, and they needed me.
Everyone else had tried so there were none left.
I was the last, so I was the first. The moon and its stars were blinking open their eyes as my fingertips
Left her waist and I backstepped into their world that couldn’t do without me.
I could have been a martyr, clipped my locks after God gave me all he could and all the rest.
I would have been a martyr, but my blood started to burn and the flames licked my legs.
Her gentle push tugged at the nails holding the mesh to the screen door as it creaked
Open to faded wood and gravel and patches of green grass and golden sunset-light.
I hadn’t heard but I’d known the answer as she walked outside. My hands were lighter
Than the grains I’d used to make her dinner, and I found strands of her hair on a 3-year t-shirt
I’d never wanted to throw out after I wore it in my first car, a rental I bought wholesale.
Sad songs about love babbled and murmured on the Crosley she found for us during
The Christmas my cousins slept on our couch and floor. The sink poured, dribbled,
Stopped, and the sliding bottle of oil ground across the countertop. Through the door I could
See Tall Metal Skyscrapers and Helicopters. But before the moon and all its stars
Could take my eyes for their own, she found her voice and used it:
“Did you find a path to the stars?” She asked.
“I never did,” I said. “If I think to, maybe I’ll look again tomorrow.”
As a kid and teenager, my ambition was outrageous. When I couldn't, I dreamed, and I loved it. A pastime was envisioning grandiosity. I got older and saw that concrete, granular joys were worth more than anything I'd been picturing; I saw that I hadn't really been picturing anything.
This poem is mostly about that. It's about my growing older and nailing down my life and its pleasures. It's about sound financial decisions and satisfaction. It's about peace, not inspiration--the peace that comes in heydays like these.