I’ve been in Texas so long
that sugar maples, broom sedge,
and the exact lilt of light orange
they share at sundown are little more
than the last few piano notes
Emily in her floor-length skirt
played before the building closed
while the rest of us waited outside
listening ten years ago at twilight.
Since then, two of us have tried
to die. I am trying to learn
to be each instant. Rather,
as the peach flesh flakes from black
skin of the salmon I have crusted
with pecans, I am wholly aware
that my dinner is the only extant
entity, the axle of the living day
because outside, swatches of light
and sound can reproduce sleeping
pills, a forgotten wrapped package,
the endless list that in this instant
can be avoided: if you read as though
each word is a newborn, read for
the page as its turning, history fails
like a memory stuttering its vowels.
But my basics are clear: my friends
swallowed oblivion in near-misses
and I am far from home, substituting
for heartbeats happy hour, for history
a balanced pencil on my nose,
and for love, a camel coat with lapels.
For broom sedge, an endless brown plain.
for sugar maples, my mind on dulling fire.