Moraine

Moraine

from Moraine

The dentist shows me photographs
of my teeth, their vintage fillings
glisten like mountain lakes,
their alpine peaks ground down
from years of carrots, nuts,
popcorn kernels. He shows me
fissures in the rocks, places
where the silver has turned
into wedges that threaten
to split my molars into shards.
It’s all happening now:
my knees buckle as I’m walking,
my uterus is tired, my feet deformed,
my nails have taken in fungi
my mind is heavy with memories
and opinions it has picked up
along the way like a glacier
acquires rock debris.

Keys

Keys

from The Belly Remembers

In the photo my children
run along a wet shoreline
on a bright day of whipping winds.
Jagged cliffs of red stone
and grey rise like bleachers
above the flinging sand.

He is the young man in baggy shorts
and sunglasses, hair flying,
grinning wide as he runs,
leggy sister on his back.
Her hood tied round her face
is like a mouth pronouncing “cow”,
but you can see in the narrow patch
of light that shows only a peek of nose,
the inner corners of eyes, a touch
of upper lip, that she is grinning too.
Her legs dangling through his pocketed arms
are bare, strong-calved in blue gym shoes.

He has not yet climbed
the rocky island that rises unseen
behind them in the green-white frothing
surf, and I do not yet know
that my keys lie somewhere hidden
beneath the blowing sand,
that it will take an hour of worry,
the help of strangers, and finally,
an unbeliever’s desperate plea
to Saint Anthony before the wind
will part the sand to reveal them,
the keys to everything else
that seems important in my life.

A Whore in the Kitchen

A Whore in the Kitchen

The long seam that runs
down the edge of my forearm
remembers the hot cookie sheet,
bisects the mouth-like blemish
below the elbow, a souvenir
from the broiler pan.
Its older sibling, a scar
like a thin, brown scowl
on the other arm
remains from some
now-forgotten oven disaster.

Before my body, it was the pots
that got scarred — saucepans
blackened so deeply by popcorn
that even a series
of baking soda cures
could not revive them,
frying pans forever mutilated
by a deadly mix
of confusion and neglect.

When my saintly husband
took over the cooking chores,
it was fine by me.
He liked to say
I was a whore in the kitchen,
and there wasn’t much to say
about saints.

I Miss the Cold War

I Miss the Cold War

from The Belly Remembers

I miss the Cold War:
cloak and dagger, spies, secret codes,
shorelines bristling with nukes.
Mutually Assured Destruction —
how cheerful that now sounds!

And I miss the enemy:
that broad-faced mass of men with sickles
and women with brooms; black-haired
multitudes in red Mao jackets.
Young Pioneers! Mustachioed dictators,
reds, pinko commie sympathizers —
how I miss the old, predictable adversary!

I miss the Red Phone, the Black Box
the Button, the Domino Theory, bomb shelters,
the constant threat of nuclear strike.
How safe, how comfortable, that ungainly
teeter-totter seems from the darkness
of this new and lonely perch.

How I miss being one of the good guys,
miss the knowing we were right.