in the bathroom, a sticker on the hot-water tank
says, It only takes one or two
seconds to become
helpless in flowing grain, or among flowering graves,
down where the boats are being unloaded.
It happens so swift, that one
The door opens and it’s a new house, new knife
and fork, new restaurant
by the railroad station.
The wave crushes its salt, cloud into a cup.
It saved your life once at a coast
and cherry-blossom smoke. Help me up hit
me up hit me, while steamboats throw
themselves at the shore
and low hills
shag into farm. I’m a snap, says the resident.
I’m what there is about the dead beyond change.
It runs out. How easy, the wave farewell.
All along the way out was a new year’s kiss
beneath a Supremes poster
the daisy-decorated leggings
unfurled on the floor.
She tells her boyfriend
who was the boy who has been writing this poem
ever since that night, that she was not dying
it was all a joke, the trip to the hospital
all a lark that lasted an hour
a lark, so, to fly. I don’t know if you learn anything
about love from poetry, but you can learn about
poetry from love
the way you can know a city
from walking around it. The boy who has never been
in love before doesn’t understand and, never-understanding
leaves the apartment, the Supremes
the year of 1991, and the leggings
rolled up on the floor like bird nests
the body that was dying and then was not dying
but still shivered under sheets
when she came—the breath
down the stairs that turned halfway down
beside a flowering tree with a birdfeeder
which in winter had pocked the ice-persisted ice.
I love her for pretending to die
a lie of such richness
and for being able to die, both of us
any moment, so that when I begin to, in whatever hour
I may find it again that adrift sense
that abandon, to be careless
about the future again.