I skim sadness like fat off the surface
of cooling soup. Don’t care about
metaphor but wish it would arrive
me. There’s a cool current of air
this hot day I want to ride.
I have no lover, not even my love.
I have no other, not even I.
Evening, and all my ghosts come back to me
like red banty hens to catalpa limbs
and chicken-wired hutches, clucking, clucking,
and falling, at last, into their head-under-wing sleep.
I think about the field of grass I lay in once,
between Omaha and Lincoln. It was summer, I think.
The air smelled green, and wands of windy green, a-sway,
a-sway, swayed over me. I lay on green sod
like a prairie snake letting the sun warm me.
What does a girl think about alone
in a field of grass, beneath a sky as bright
as an Easter dress, beneath a green wind?
Maybe I have not shaken the grass.
All is vanity.
Maybe I never rose from that green field.
All is vanity.
Maybe I did no more than swallow deep, deep breaths
and spill them out into story: all is vanity.
Maybe I listened to the wind sighing and shivered,
spinning, awhirl amidst the bluestem
and green lashes: O my beloved! O my beloved!
I lay in a field of grass once, and then went on.
Even the hollow my body made is gone.
On the eighth day he coined the word “alone”
and saw that it was as good as everything else.
A yellow school bus rattled down the lane,
a wind blew in a drainpipe, strong, mellifluous.
I brought two empty crates to the parking lot,
watched neighbors with briefcases and car keys.
At noon a mailman passed by where I sat
invisible, like a tree among trees.
Why, why, I asked. I wanted to know why,
but only scared a squirrel that dropped his acorn
when my voice broke silence unexpectedly—
a white noise in a wireless telephone.
My club soda went flat in the bottle. With a spit
of rain, a wind blew again from the lake.
I raised my index finger and touched it,
pleading, give me a break, give me a break.
How lovely it is not to go. To suddenly take ill.
Not seriously ill, just a little under the weather.
To feel slightly peaked, indisposed. Plagued by
a vague ache, or a slight inexplicable chill.
Perhaps such pleasures are denied
to those who never feel obliged. If there are such.
How pleasant to convey your regrets. To feel sincerely
sorry, but secretly pleased to send them on their way
without you. To entrust your good wishes to others.
To spare the equivocal its inevitable rise.
How nice not to hope that something will happen,
but to lie on the couch with a book, hoping that
nothing will. To hear the wood creak and to think.
It is lovely to stay without wanting to leave.
How delicious not to care how you look,
clean and uncombed in the sheets. To sip
brisk mineral water, to take small bites
off crisp Saltines. To leave some on the plate.
To fear no repercussions. Nor dodge
the unkind person you bug.
Even the caretaker has gone to the party.
If you want something you will have to
get it yourself. The blue of the room seduces.
The cars of the occupied sound the wet road.
You indulge in a moment of sadness, make
a frown at the notion you won’t be missed.
This is what it is. You have opted to be
forgotten so that your thoughts might live.