Saint Marina’s Intercession
We drove to Saratoga Springs
and walked among the mineral
fountains at Congress Park––
then sat out on the lawn
and ate packed lunches
thinking, “This is nice.”
We drank the sulfur smelling
water and filled glass jars to
bring some home for spells.
But this water that has been
here since before the word
had already worked its magic.
We fill our suitcase with familiar books
as if there is no poetry where we are going.
It takes us a day and a night to traverse
the land from there to here––a distance
measured by telephone wires gone slack
from the weight of transcontinental conversations.
We arrive to find that the shower is broken:
a handwritten note pinned to the cupboard
suggests we wash our hair in the kitchen sink
near a bowl of tomatoes ripening upon the windowsill
beside the potted basil plant. Outside, bluebirds sing
to one another over the tops of the backyard fences.
A breeze carries the smell of milkweed and lavender.
Still, the sink is wide and deep and made of bronze,
the color of your hair now that it’s wet. You lather
soap into a crown that the water washes away
down the drain. Somewhere a lawn mower engine
demands our attention. We give it our all.
We woke to the sound of thunderclaps
pushing across the lake, white capped
waves buckling at the shore. Summer
had flown south overnight and the cool,
sweet smells of autumn have settled in.
Neighborhood dogs howl their lament.
Inside, everything is still except for the
gentle heave of the sheets as we press
against each other like wind upon the water,
ardent joy divulged in eager bursts of breath
quick as lightening, heavy as thunder.
We follow the North Shore tideline
speckled with water-worn glass and
striped zebra mussels, driftwood logs
pressed upon the beach by the lake’s
self-cleansing roil, stamped red-bricks
carried along the strand from the depths
of nineteenth-century Collinwood kilns.
A deep-chested Glaucous Gull, white
as the breakers crashing upon the shoal,
stands in the deep sleep of indifference
as a salt freighter creeps the horizon.
Your beach-brown hair waves wildly
like dune-grass upon the trade winds, like
the tide of blood churning within my chest.
The Fires We Build
We split wood and stack logs along the property line
as summer retreats across the lake. We’ll make a fire
tonight. There will be boots and flannel shirts, coffee
in enamel mugs as bitter as September’s pallid pull.
Kids are walking up the hill between the long grasses,
their slight dirt path worn wide by daily parades to the
beach and back––each trip eroding their need of us. Cold
creeps in and the weightlessness of august youth grays.
Our hands are tired from the work, but we find each other
in the spreading glow, like Andromeda and the Milky Way
reaching out across the great expanse, hoping to connect
in this cosmic wilderness––bizarre and bleak and brutal.
The dogs come closer to the warmth and lie at our feet
as if we were royalty, as if any of this mattered at all. And
we look out upon our small, ephemeral kingdom beneath
the reassuring stars still flickering like ancestral campfires.