Because I am not married, I have the skin of an orange
that has spent its life in the dark. Inside the orange
I am blind. I cannot tell when a hand reaches in
and breaks the atoms of the blood. Sometimes
a blackbird will bring the wind into my hair.
Or the yellow clouds falling on the cold floor are animals
beginning to fight each other out of their drifting misery.
All the women I have known have been ruined by fog
and the deer crossing the field at night.
My friend says she is like an empty drawer
being pulled out of the earth.
I am the long neck of the giraffe coming down
to see what she doesn’t have.
What holds us chained to the same cold river,
where we are surprised by the circles
we make in the ice? When we talk about the past
it is like pushing stones back into the earth.
Sometimes she digs her nails into her leather bag
to find out where my heart is. The white sleeves
of her shirt are bright with waves when I visit.
When we lie, we live a little longer—
which is unbelievable. If you love
someone, the water moves up from the well.
When I talk to my friends I pretend I am standing on the wings
of a flying plane. I cannot be trusted to tell them how I am.
Or if I am falling to earth weighing less
than a dozen roses. Sometimes I dream they have broken up
with their lovers and are carrying food to my house.
When I open the mailbox I hear their voices
like the long upward-winding curve of a train whistle
passing through the tall grasses and ferns
after the train has passed. I never get ahead of their shadows.
I embrace them in front of moving cars. I keep them away
from my miseries because to say I am miserable is to say I am like them.