Today I read


by Alison Luterman

The eloquence of the cat's sinewy jump
to the kitchen counter where he knows he is forbidden
is different than the eloquence of an elbow shoving him off,
paring knife clattering to the floor.

Just as the eloquence of the green worm
slowly eating its way from the heart of the peach outward
sings differently than the pile of cut peaches in the bowl,
glistening in their juice like wounded suns.

The eloquence of the woman's weathered hands,
searching and packing and slicing through peaches,
their perfume rising, one part wistfulness, three parts honey,
is not the same as the eloquence of her husband's back stooping to his work:
saw and sander, chisel and clamp.

His back: a shelter between hurricanes,
a question of metal and fire, an open door.

And then the eloquent silence of him looking at the laden tree
and his wife
going back and forth from the house
with the smell of stepladder and the colander full of fruit.
The gaze he gives her through which the hard season
of cold leafless branches has passed, and roundness resumed,

and the glance she flings back at him: one part rue, two parts amber
as she goes into the house and picks up her knife
and turns again to the cutting and storing and putting by. 

Today I read

Marengo by Mary Oliver

Out of the sump rise the marigolds.
From the rim of the marsh, muslin with mosquitoes,
rises the egret, in his cloud-cloth.
Through the soft rain, like mist, and mica,
the withered acres of moss begin again.

When I have to die, I would like to die
on a day of rain–
long rain, slow rain, the kind you think will never end.

And I would like to have whatever little ceremony there might be
take place while the rain is shoveled and shoveled out of the sky,

and anyone who comes must travel, slowly and with thought,
as around the edges of the great swamp.

Today I read


by Alison Luterman

I was the wild-haired girl by the side of the road,
thumb out, steering a jittery course
between terror and boredom.
Hours later, if you cared to look,
you'd find me rattling around
in the back of a truck,
carried headlong into the next thing.
It was just my luck
to have been born when I was,
on the cusp of a chaotic abundance,
and, as my sister said,
I was the fastest sperm,
or maybe just the most persistent.
What luck I've had since then,
to sleep in the wet spot,
to bruise easily, to laugh till I fart.
What luck that my heart splintered
into ten million silver needles
each one on fire to embroider
love-stained and prisoner of the self
on red satin pillows.
Lucky to live a lifetime
in the years between losses,
to lie awake at night, wide-eyed
with the doleful sirens and the restless mice;
to sweat a misspent word, to rue the past,
to have a past to rue.
Luckiest of all: to have yearned mightily,
and learned a little,
to have lived inside desire
like Jonah in the whale,
perpetually greedy and hopeful,
making a lifetime out of each mouthful.
And then to find you!  Luck
at the eleventh hour;
undeserved, red-faced, panting,
and overworked guardian angel,
a messenger
from all we can't see, a note
telling us that love is real
was here all along,
a forgotten blue-and-green marble in our back pocket,
an exact replica of the living world.

Today I read

Citizens of a Broken City

by Alison Luterman

She's shuffling around the lake in flip flops
pregnant belly hanging out
over the open strings of her sweat-pants
shouting into her cell phone:
"You just don't get it!"

Indigo twilight streaked with horsetail clouds.
I'm dogging her discreetly, wondering
what don't they get? Everything, probably.
What it's like to be lugging her particular load,
wanted or not, into the uncertain future

while above us the sky is doing its big art installation thing,
sunset's last flush lighting up the West
like those pink neon thighs outlined in shaky fluorescent
on the sign swinging outside a saloon: enter here
for the time of your life.

We're citizens of a broken city, yes
in a dying time, yes,
amid the general din;
improbable that we'll be saved,
still we keep hoping,

which is to say shuffling, limping, or whizzing along---
kids on skateboards and bikes,
the lady with the pink hula hoop
swinging her hips in wide joyous circles,
Chinese elders practicing T'ai Chi under a spreading oak,
all of us putting one
semi-discouraged foot in front of the other
while above us the absolute indifferent magnificence
abounds, abides;
from a certain perspective even our ignorance is dazzling.