Not Like Missing Socks (revisited)

I am drowning in years and buttons — grappling with broken
white threads of dresses, the loosed hems of horizons
teasing appliqués of bald mountains on their way to me . . .

Yet it could be the ocean that comes.  That line where water
meets sky and eyes cannot differentiate blues, grays,
and air is water, water air — until the sun, moon,
or some heavenly body hangs an angle of light
across the shoulders of passing day or the thigh
of lumbering night.

To keep my chin above days, I stack flat goods of florals
I will sew into aprons for others.  I stack wools
in their weaves of Pendleton plaids and the black
and red flannel lumberjack checkers for shirts
I will never make.  I manage toeholds in rolled gowns
and diplomas, use mortar boards for recycled steps.

In 1960 our Home Ec projects were hospital corners
for Perfect Beds, Boiling Water, Nail Filing 101,
Personal Hygiene, the Evils of Sex wheeled in
from a.v. — those audio-video geeks who would later
own Silicone Valley.

Out of tiny blue checks, I made a pincushion horse and gave her
a mane and tail of red yarn, backstitched a halter
and reins I held to ride across cutting tables, gallop
the chalk trays of pond-green boards, and swing
on the pulls of maps, lowering continents into 7th grade,
patches of the world, each in the shape of a scrap . . .

The buttons grew in number — the lost ones, the found ones,
the shanked, 4-holed, 2-holed, oval, square, round,
shell, bone, Czechoslovakian glass, wood, brass.
Grandmothers, aunts, mothers of friends, seamstresses,
doodlers with thread, et al, made me heiress to tins.

This sea of fasteners proved unable to hold a coat closed, a cuff
circling a wrist, or his pocket flap in place.  They are failed
buttons of happenstance, missing buttons of place.  I have
bobby-pinned back a part in the hours, sectioned minutes
to the right and the left, braided seconds and wound them
about my head, which I keep above tides of buttons, and wait
for the horizon to come — buttons all missing from shirts
and skirts worn by somebody somewhere somewhen.

[after reading Christopher Buckley’s “Cloud Journal” from Sky]


With Nothing but Water

No wonder Whiskeytown Lake drew us in,
holding up, as it does, all the great weight of blue sky,
holding down all those ghosts near the outskirts
where a mining town drowned
once the dam came in.  We hauled our crafts there,
escaped August’s heat, February’s ennui,
lines humming on Summer’s catamaran,
kokanee nibbling bait thrown
from our blue-bottomed skiff in pre-Spring.
We used the road to the drowned town
for a boat ramp, saw walls standing in the clutter
of blue gill schools once
after a seven-year drought – the water, so low then,
small fortunes could be had mining
snags for lost lures.
When gnat wings went gold with sun and buzz,
we tied off to wild vines and took the shore grass
to our thighs – yours mine, yours mine –

O how we laughed at the thorns.
O how we laughed at their bite.

With nothing but water, we’d go dizzy and drunk,
shallows lapping us free and making us new
in the womb of a finger cove.

Uphill from the drowned town there are cattails
and blue-bodied dragonflies, yellow marsh iris, blackberries,
minnows, frogs.  When the burrs of memory snag
and hold, I am water and sky and you,
you are the honest air of both,
allowing me breath.