The Man Taken Back By The Moon
had a knack for living, each step a careless
gesture toward the infinite, each breath
held in blue globes on frozen winter air.
In summer his lungs were beehives, gold, glazed.
His heart, a pomegranate, peeled and whole.
His hands were his father's hands--
they repaired the leather cover of an old book.
Gleaming with oil, fragrant with glue, they opened
the flower of a woman petal by blood petal.
His clothes fit him loosely, a dull skin--
tan pants, worn socks, oh but the black shirt
with the tiny white stitches spattered everywhere
like stars, a scar on his shoulder-- the flesh
stitched back into itself-- risen, slightly curved,
as if a wing had been torn away. He's the man
sweeping the sidewalk in front of his shop,
street lamps blinking on down the block,
doors closing and locking. He stops
to fish a match from his pocket, a cigarette.
He leans against his life the way the broom
leans against the corner of the building,
innocent of death. He's listening to moths
beat their earthly wings against the storefront glass,
not really listening to me, simply taking pleasure
in the sound of my voice, watching
the moon notch its way through the branches
of the trees as it rises. The god of cancer
not yet inside him. Still whole. Still mine.
Reetika Arranges My Closet
Her house is a lesson in schematics,
as if she'd made a diagram first:
each room penciled in on grid paper,
rectangular cutouts of bed, desk, chest
of drawers, paper circles the size of dimes
for each 100 watt lamp. The book case
catycorner in a corner: 5 books per shelf.
No knickknacks. No dust. On the desk
a clean sheet of onionskin held down
with a glass Bluebird-of-Happiness.
One silver pen. One wedge of flesh eraser.
I follow her from room to room, ooohing in awe,
windows emitting their glorious scent of Windex,
waxed floors wafting up their slick, lemony, yes.
This is the life, I quip, and she sings, Tea?
and before I can speak she's opening
the cupboard to boxes stacked by size,
cans in tight rows, spices hung on the door
in all their alphabetized splendor.
She leans against a sink so clean all I can think
is inner sanctum. She's a collapsed star hovering
there in her short jet skirt, inky V-neck T-shirt,
ebony sweater vest, sable oolong tights, black
stacked heels trussed at the instep with gold
Monte Carlo buckles. She giggles
through a sweet veil of steam
rising from the rim of her cup, her hair so black
it's blue, feathered into perfect wings.
She promises to help me rearrange my closet,
to separate my skirts by length and color,
throw out everything that doesn't fit,
box sweaters for summer in cedar chips.
I invite her to my house. The front door ratchets open
past stacks of newspapers, bags of recyclables,
magazines and flowerpots-- the everything I've saved.
We shovel our way to the livingroom, stand
amid its rubble, baskets and bookcases, pillows
spilling from the overstuffed couch. Pictures ascend
the walls, spiny plants fall along the sills,
looping their tendrils through the narrow
crevices between the paper angels and the waterballs.
She swoons like a schoolgirl holding a ticket
for free admission to the Carlsbad Caverns,
picks each object up from its circle of dust,
asks after its history like a archeologist
discovering the ruins of Pompeii. This, she squeals,
is great, as we high step along the clogged hallway,
to my bedroom with its fourposter strung up
like a great web, the knobs draped with panties,
socks, bras, to the closet's open doors where she stares
at the alluvial spew of purses, belts and shoes.
Reetika's eyes are glowing,
her mouth is opening and closing,
and I'm going to show her everything I own.