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Magical Thinking

ISSUE:  Winter 1985
I am sometimes afraid I love each lover
a little less than the one before, and the first one
most of all: that night the phone rang in the dorm
and the parking lot filled up with snow
and he tied his scarf in a soft knot
around my neck is a scene
I can’t forget, the story I would tell
if I ever told the truth when someone asked
what I’m thinking as I swallow the evening’s
last wine. Even though it was years ago: the winter
the river froze for the first time in a century
and, despite warnings from the weathermen, eager fathers
took their children out to walk across it.

We went too: the sky was a delicate membrane stretched
between silver capillaries. A lost cat, a woman
singing arias from an old convertible
would have started the bridge swinging, sent
it crashing down into the hard river. As it was,
only a few cars, clumsy in chains, passed
and later at home, though it could have been any one
of a hundred dusks, he stood by the window
and muttered nothing to the street. He threw his voice
into my throat: at odd moments I would find myself
saying anguish or so what? as though surprise
were a dark cavity nothing filled.

Last winter was mild. The spring’s been cold,
record-breaking freezes every night this week,
but bright days: the sun wheeling its sharp edge
like the saw in silent movies that’s always on the verge
of splitting the girl in half. Yesterday I thought I saw
the shape of his hands in the sky broken up by trees.
Then a window opened: a child practicing scales.
Out of nowhere I said cello, redbud, thaw.


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