I can live so happily
here in Vermont
all I have to do
is not think
I can live so happily
here in Vermont
all I have to do
is not think
Sometimes I feel like I’m whispering
into a megaphone that’s turned off
says Sean, reading from a blue notebook
he made in art class last semester. He sits
down. I’m already sitting and I know
what he means though I ask the wrong question,
the one about the girlfriend. No, he isn’t sad
and missing her. He’s sad walking around.
I’m sad walking around, too. We sit and no one
walks past in the hallways because everyone
leaves our school as fast as they can. ]
Whole days go by and I see no one
that loves me, I say. He says, It wasn’t the same
at my other school. I say, Me neither. He’s
already closed that notebook he made.
But it’s not that there aren’t good people here,
I think, or say, we’re talking and not everything
from the brain exits the mouth. We have to go
to a poetry reading but we’re going together.
We get up. We pass by the side of the library
that’s covered in glass, the glass covered in blinds.
Is it us, or this place? one of us says and I say
This place, and mention New York and Kathryn
in the back of my car, nodding at how her city
gives back, makes wintertime worth it, all those
exhibits uptown and trombones in the park
and you can take the subway anywhere. Here
we get the sun, every day. And that’s nice, we say.
But that’s not anyone’s doing! We’re laughing
but it isn’t funny. And sleeping alone in a bed is lonely,
Sean says, I could wake up dead and nobody
would know it. I know what he means. I think
it has to do with bearing witness. About visiting
Klee hung on a wall. About loving a person
by cooking them tofu. Or something to do with
inertia. Or people with grit. Or an older
America. The reading takes place where
readings take place and waiting, we talk about
Jericho, being so smart, writing those poems, knowing
those songs. The poet in front says “fadder”
for father and it sounds more correct. Everything’s
over in about forty minutes. I say the word pizza
because it’s Sean’s favorite word. Two slices with pesto
and two with ricotta. The game is on loud
in the kitchen; the kitchen is next to the booths.
Before dropping me off, Sean gives me a sticker
from a band he was in. It’s likely that I’ll save it
for seven years, then paste it to a letter to him.
Dear Sean, I’ll write. The Holsteins here
are sick of their milk. The fruits on the trees
wage war by wielding juice. All the poems we wrote
in school are finally getting acted out.
A San Diego friend emailed me this poem this week. How did she know this was the week I was missing peaches so badly? Also missing Annie of Sweet Tree Farms, the best & coolest fruit farmer in the Whole World. We do have a couple of peach trees on the property, but no fruits yet. Although there are huge, bodacious raspberries blooming. Also blueberries. And plums! So there is really nothing for me to complain about. But ooh. The joy of eating a peach. While standing over the sink. The juice dripping down my chin. And looking out the window as I bite. And taking the pit in my fingers. And throwing it outside. Just in case. It wants to grow. Into a peach tree of its own.
Only one insect has feasted here,
a clear stub of resin
plugs the scar. And the hollow
where the steam was severed
shines with juice.
The fur still silvered
like a caul. Even
in the next minute
the hairs will darken,
turn more golden in my palm.
Heavier, this flesh,
than you would imagine
like the sudden
weight of a newborn.
Oh what a marriage
of citron and blush!
It could be a planet
reflected through a hall
of mirrors. Or
what a swan becomes
when a fairy shoots it
from the sky at dawn.
At the beginning of the world,
when the first dense pith
was ravished and the stars
were not yet lustrous
coins fallen from the
pockets of night,
who could have dreamed
this would be curried
from the chaos.
Scent of morning and sugar,
bruise and hunger.
Silent, swollen, clefted life,
remnant always remaking itself
out of that first flaming ripeness.
Something that I miss about San Diego is the sideyard, that yard we had on the side of our house, where friends used to gather. So many great things happened there: poems under the streetlights, loud live music, deluxe beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), yoga mat washing by way of rare rain, hot pepper roasting (& peeling), yoga class by Britta, yard sales, the explorations of a young chicken named V’Nilla… That being said, we also experienced chair thievery with frequency. And people used to walk their dogs onto the lawn and let them shit and just leave it. Hummingbirds buzzed through there and friends visiting from the east came and sat in the sideyard with their faces facing the sun and said, “Aaaah.” People purchased Misha’s photos there and we parked our bikes there and we grilled fish out there and we sat with tea out there under the purple umbrella that Misha bought because he knows how much I love purple. We grew good mint out there and a kale plant that looked like a palm tree and a bush of African blue basil that the bees adored. And before we left, we invited everyone over to buy and take our stuff, and we made fancy popcorns, and we played bocci, and drank beer and lemonade from a cooler. It was our living room, carpeted with the spikiest grass I’d ever known, and Misha would turn off the sprinklers and then every week dudes would come and mow the grass and turn the sprinklers back on. And now that we’re not living there anymore I hope heartily that whoever is living there is loving that little square of green as much as we did, is using it as hard as we used it, and is calling it a sideyard.
(The sideyard was also where I discovered I could wear bocce balls as earrings, no big deal, just wearing these bocce balls as earrings next to my boyfriend. I’m assuming we lost that game of bocce based on the look on Misha’s face.) (Photo by Marilyn, a true friend who I met–you guessed it!–in the sideyard.)
I made you this internet collage comprised of (beautiful) images that remind me of you. I really hope you like it.
Happiest of days to you, friend. I hope your weekend is full of even better things than Ellie giving the sneaky middle finger to you in a photo, though it’s hard to imagine what’s better than that.
San Luis Obispo Poem
for Rachel, who said I had to go to SLO
“Let’s just take in this purple
for a moment” and we do
as the line for meats grows
longer and the street fills
up. We thought we’d just stop
to café but we chatted to a stone
man who told us that the market
would be starting soon and here
we are. We types can’t miss
a farmers’ market. We gotta
see the squash and beans
for sale, we buy more apples
and some avocadoes and a pint
of Golden Kiwi raspberries.
A man named Rick asks to take
our picture and we say yes.
We eat our good brown bread
with cheese and talk to Rick
and watch the kids around
eat corn. Kindergarten gymnasts
do their flips and men in camo
are the band. A kid can bounce
in one of three inflated castles
and I want to. The jacarandas
haven’t finished blooming here.
We catch the purple petals
that fall and strew the ground
like rice after a wedding.
We keep our purple vows.
Wore a headlamp in Hollywood, walked to see
my only cousin in a one-room apartment
with blue carpet and a Yankees cap
hung on the heater
One parking ticket and four apples later
we got “the hell outta dodge”
as my father would say
or as my mother would say
They both say what the other says now
so it’s hard to know who started what
And now I say what they say too
and I say “bellicious” and “Why I outta” with a little shaking fist
because Ellie says it
And she says it because her mom said it
and a kid said it and it sounds
good to hear your mouth say what your family
and your friends have said
Just like it feels good to obsess
over a spider building its own home
anew every day
There’s a reason poets are in love with spiders
There’s a reason we’re not driving straight back east
There’s a web wet with rain that’s threaded north
We must wreck what we’ve built
so we may build the home again
We left San Diego yesterday. The West Coast Poem Project begins today. Stay tuned for poems written along the Pacific coast and photos as well. Here’s our tricked out truck, Egret the Egret, packed to the gills and ready for action.
And here’s us driving away after a hellish half week of packing. Flower crown by Wyndellen!
The map is on the wall. Now the packing happens.
If I’m gone from this blog for a couple of days, it’s because we’re packing and we’re leaving this home and we’re headed on the road. Roadtrip “updates” (poems, impressions, photographs, souvenir descriptions) will appear here whenever possible.
Apologies to Farmer #1 for the less-than-gorgeous portrait.