It was the kind of night June was made for,

a night worth twice its weight in syrup, lemon balm air

like a soft damp cloth wrung & wrung

by capable hands.  It was a thick night you could eat

alive, a souped-up night of steam & ginger,

a night no one quite believed was real

except it was there & ripe for the picking,

cash crop of love under the butter moon.


The boys & girls slipped out of their skins,

took the dark lake like a sidelong glance,

parted the curtains of cedar wood as the firefly

meteor shower began.  One boy on the shore

cupped a bug in his hands.  It was cold light,

perfectly efficient.  He showed it to the girl

dripping oil & water, how the bulb kept pulsing

but gave no heat.  The night spread a rumor.


But the girl believed it.  Her heart was a peach

in a bowl of bones.  His heart was the stone

& he hunted for insects, spelling her name

in fire on the sand.  He said  look the moon’s

drawing water.  Meaning: forecast.  Meaning: rain

though she heard  you are the halo, the weather,

the circle of cirrus conjuring change.  Then the night

stepped out of its black chemise & lay its head


across their laps, the pale night shone

like a coin in a crack & they fell to their knees

to palm it.  Night of fingers, night of tips,

shameless night that would not sleep, pastille

night she put under her tongue & sucked the sugar

till sugar was spit.  Then he slipped it quickly

into his pocket & it balled up small, picked up

lint.  It swallowed its pride & turned to a pebble,


then a piece of gravel, then a speck of grit.


(originally published in Puerto del Sol)




The big winters come in threes,

& so we are due.


Summer died last night. I was driving


fast down Cemetery Road—


my high-beams carved a white tunnel through the black,

swept the edge of the corn

with their x-ray fury, the corn


flashing by like a bamboo forest, so huge & leafy

I didn’t recognize it.


Home.  No porch light:


forty degrees & dropping fast.


The gardens were uncovered & the coyotes

whooped it up, the cat out hunting, the dog out cold

but trembling now & then, whining in her sleep—


what kind of dreams will bring a dog to weep?


I wanted to be the kind of woman

who always has a bag packed, a small bag

with underwear & potions

ready for the road at any moment.


I planned to follow my life

like a divining rod, & where it dipped

I’d stop for awhile.  Dig for water, drink.


How could I know that a stick would root me


here, at the crossroads of dust & corn,

here in the boreal forest of change, the winter


coming on like a freight train roaring,

pulling its rattling months of cold?

And me on the dark road, parallel to the tracks,


racing that engine to the river.