In the Teatre-Museu Dali
Three friends, in various states of marriage,
walk the inner sanctum, circled
by golden figures. Everywhere the breasts
of Dali’s wife. A man leads another
with Down’s Syndrome
down a spiraling staircase. We silently follow.
We search for the melted clocks, find them finally
in tapestry high above a perfectly-made bed
guarded by a golden skeleton. We three whisper
of our own unmade beds.
of a person might be what
saves us from the endless desperation
The Dreaming Woman
You are not an injured angel, side bleeding.
Not a muscled demon, finger curled. Just a man
who had the beautiful hands of Jesus.
Oh anti-miracle. Oh blind hunger.
What freedom is a yesterday unfinished?
In my mind we become two swirling insects.
I’m impaling myself on these thoughts.
As if the act of thrusting myself on your memory
would force you from my blood, my cells.
Forgetting is spinning the globe backwards.
I pile the memory pieces of you on a plate.
The dishwasher won’t close. The water is cold.
Fifteen years and I’m translated into an unknown language.
Fifteen years and the water that touched our hips
has circled the globe. It waits for us near Malaga.
Do you taste older? A certain shade of gold?
Gold pears, cheese gold with the rind of living?
I hid your picture years ago and now the shoebox is empty.
Somewhere a branch brushes your shoulder. Under moonlight?
A tree drops her dampness on your cheek. The morning sun?
You are lost to me. A chair thrown in the ocean.
I am a series of intentional accidents.
Each day is a dry pine needle. I am filling myself
with old tickets and olives and outdated calendars.
Sometimes I lay with my cheek against hardwood.
There is breathing in the wood; it enters me like a panting lie.
I would not misplace you again, would label your neck in black felt tip.
We walk the fifty two steps down
from the pension between the brown
and butter-colored buildings. At a small
table on the sidewalk, we drink
lukewarm Nescafé, sweating already
in the thick morning. The barista cautions:
Don’t swallow the grounds.
They’ll make you crazy.
It is July in Greece, too hot,
and we can taste the distant wildfires.
Before us, the blue Argolic Gulf,
behind us the Palamidi Fortress. The future
is empty tracing paper, the past
with its thick lines. Silent old men sit
nearby; their hands rest
in their laps. What is crazy? A life
lost to routine and work? Days melted
into weeks and months with no
But now, this quiet moment, our sore
feet. The cobblestone, the wrinkled
faces of the old men—everything
is in golden egg tempura brushstrokes.
The absence of home is a mirror
reflecting the shimmering ocean.
The coffee grounds stick
in our throat.
the car is too big, the wheels scraping
against the narrow sidewalks, a sound
like the world’s trapdoor opening. The stone
streets, the heavy doors of buildings, the sun
clinging to the air above the rooftops.
The three women hold a ring
of three giant keys, special instructions
for sequence and turning, the keys
like weird crochet needles jabbing
at the door. A small woman peers out
of her own door, her gray hair and eyes
fluid as if she sees through their commotion
to her past. The wine, the duck in rich sauce,
and the rigid mattresses force
these women to move as if underwater
but they travel together into strange
spaces. They walk with empty arms
into the city squares, to the vendors selling
Santas climbing ropes, vin chaud, toys
that move by springs and rubber bands. They want
their bodies back, such shameless desire
for everything. Now. They are transparent opals
tucked into pockets. Right here—thousands
of miles. How far they’ve come. The old popes
are dead in their crypts, yet feet still feel
the uneven stones that line the insistent
streets. Look, they think, just see
the way the elderly couple sits, each holding
a glass of wine in one hand and with the other
petting the panting dog. The women feel
no fatigue, no sadness, just this December day
in the bright square facing the setting sun,
their old wounds closing at night, like tulips.
PAIGE RIEHL is the author of the poetry chapbook Blood Ties. Her poetry has appeared in Meridian, South Dakota Review, Nimrod International Journal, and more. She lives with her family in Saint Paul, MN.