Summer Heart

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The curly tendrils of snow peas
snatch at each other
tentative and desperate,

how the heat goes under
when day descends into
dusk without once
looking back

chatter of watery French
the Quebecois girls snap stems
with rough fingers
my ears lulled to

inclinations within fields
of the mind, monologues of
black birds with red chests
that caw and fly up, up

the sun a round red balloon
balanced in the evening air
I am trying to hold it there
by some sleight of magic,

desire, or illusion
which are all one thing
Sandrine can tell time
by its angle in the sky —

8 o’clock and she is right,
and she jumps up with a
bright laugh, emblem

of all youth:
pea stalks in hand
blonde wisps floating


Anaphora: a method to begin

The span of a decade,
sequence of deep sleep

spaces you have never lived
pave their hollows into the brain

set off an equation
some other linguistic entity,

some field that shook its
stalks against a white porch light
in a storm

but that was not you there
somebody else

that is some other child now
at this very moment

who vanishes into a city
with memory of blues records

“Sally preferred the company of herself”
A window grey as a dream

or its many variants,
you observe the knots of wood
across an endless floor

The Chair

From the thrift store on South
we lugged the old thirty-dollar armchair
past the late summer idlers
to the car, strapped it to the back
and carried it off to a new
seventh-floor dorm home.

It graced the corner beside the rug,
swirls of green and orange
velvet print made louder
under a cheap lamp, tamed
to a vibrant clash in the wash
of morning light,

its hideous brilliance forgiven
for the plush dimensions
and stout, loving arm rests.
“We might need a slip for that.”
My roommate upon one look at it

wrinkled her nose. I laughed
and we took turns sinking into
the ugly chair and throughout
the year outside the tall windows
the seasons changed. In the chair

quiet things were done —
brief naps, love letters,
books studied, poems copied,
written, read. By night our neighbors
came around, sat, made us
die of laughter. The marching band

boys waged war in the hallways,
and their hostages fled
to our room for safe haven —
all night the doors slammed,
hearts broke, alcohol ran.

Our wardrobes changed.
We hardly looked back.
And whenever I think of the past
I’m convinced it must still be
happening somewhere, somehow
on a distant fabric of time

the sun is still reaching into
all the corners of that room,
she is still translating Neruda
on the bottom bunk
under a yellow floral quilt.

And I’m writing about how
much I love that cellist
and if he feels the same,
cradled in the armchair
which we never did cover up
with anything pretty after all.