The key warmed in your hand
and you knew the password
was sea
instead of ocean. Once in
he had blown the weekend
talking about documentaries.
Your head rested on his neck
then konked out
in bas relief.
The sound and smell
of the steam
across the room warmed you.
Later you figure
it was an extra blanket
tossed over your waist.
Your patience at that point
was unassuming. It was here
you turned into a piece
of wood
he spotted as sculptural.
You couldn’t scream
until he pulled out
his tongue.

 

The key word was sea
not ocean.
Trudging through sixteen inches
your mind goes to drifts
there at the shore
first last fall
with your husband and dog
slugging coffee from a thermos
and bracing against the wind.
You had gone for the dog
to taste sea salt
and expanse. The apricot cake
reminded you of earwax.
Now the thought
of snow and crusts of ice
over sand
plays in your mind.
You wouldn’t know
and call him again
by names. Seaweed. Oats. Bran.
Apricot jam. Jam.
And the word transforms from would
to wood as the key warms
in your hand.

 

Your hair is short
as spruce
and when you shake
short hairs
fall on the newspaper.
He had blown the afternoon
talking about El Salvador
without seeing the connection
to, say, Puerto Ricans
in Springfield, Mass.
The banks
of snow incite riot
or strand. The imagination
konks out
like the hemisphere.
Looking for an employer
you figure is looking
for what kills
the love between us
but not your vision
and never grandma’s sea.

 

Your hair is short
as spruce or pine
and you think of his face
brushed by it.
Cellophaning, she suggested,
stains strands of hair
blue, green—whatever.
But you shied away
because of him.
Why? Would he walk out?
When you flirted he backed off
yet when you spoke
about newspaper clippings
or goldfish he glowed.
And now this. Something
you can’t handle as he touches
your hair yet makes
for his coat. He doesn’t understand
how paint fits into
this narration. So you take his hand
and dip it in.

 

BOMB 9
Spring 1984
The cover of BOMB 9
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