by Michele Sharpe
I wanted to love him
like my fifteen-year-old self:
lips unsplit, nose unbroken,
face without a mark
on it, my tongue tasting
Seneca thought luck happened
when preparation met opportunity.
I’d like to think it was the plums’ sweetness
that prepared me
to taste the bitterness,
In this marriage, my mother’s skin was,
assuredly, my own:
craving, drenched with knowing
touch and never enough touch
and never enough.
Rivers froze where I grew up,
and spring shattered them.
He liked to say
he un-bitched me.
Maybe so, or maybe fish
leapt from the river as sleet.
His father took him fishing
on Ozark rivers under
yellow honeysuckle. I wouldn’t
recognize those rivers, only
his hands, circling
a canoe paddle and his sex.
He asked me to marry him
the first time we had sex,
asked so easily, as if it was
his habit. I waited
him out. My river, his spring,
Slash Pine Sapling
Her first grief was falling –
away from sun and high winds
swinging her like a carnival ride.
She landed on the forest floor among corpses,
but closer to her mother’s underground intimacies
with other trees. Rooting web. Sugar and hum.
This she has in common with me:
germinating after fire. The cone holding her
un-spiraled in heat, releasing her-as-seed.
My first grief was expulsion
from the hot womb where my needs
were met. The second was separation
from my mother, then the loneliness.
My luck was being born loving breezes,
sun, trees, and never being far from them.
The sapling etiolates in dense shade, straining
toward the bright paradise she remembers,
the understory dry and ripe for fire.