The Two Times I Loved You Most on a Farm
after Dorothea Grossman
It was your idea to teach me how to sleep
under the stars how to hold a gun how
to shoot it in the air & firework it
across the setting sun a silver dragonfly
with a singular purpose: to hunt
& snap its mouth around the sweetest bee—
pluck it right out of the air—
I didn’t know love could be so loud.
& once, the fields of soybean & mice
became a kind of prayer,
shushing tassels on the blown-back
calico curtains of your childhood bedroom
where you kissed me, & my shoulders
before the window— I never saw the ribs
of a silver silo that way again. [End Page 66]
Five Letters Returned to Sender
Dear Wheat & Wood—I cannot explain my absence. My body continued to grow in the night. Every knob of every muscle every heavy breath from his chest has its patience, its price.
Dear Diamond—You are loneliness and a battalion of sunspots thrown across a wall. Do not follow me back to the palace.
Dear Quartz—Forgive each step on this beach. Let me alone with each sun and all his gallop. Every third step or so, I’d force a smile.
Dear Salt—I cannot explain my absence. The snowplow rolled over me again and again and I confess: I liked it. Even the way the streetlights nicked red/green, red/green into each bank and berm.
Dear Persimmon—I cannot explain his absence. He was cotton and coffee in my mouth. The spit and rind. I should have known. People drive to the lake to ask questions of the lake. [End Page 67]
Aimee Nezhukumatathil is professor of English at the State University of New York at Fredonia. Her most recent collection of poetry, Lucky Fish (Tupelo Press, 2011), was awarded the gold medal in Poetry from the Independent Publisher Book Awards and the Eric Hoffer Grand Prize for Independent Books. She is the recipient of numerous other awards, including an NEA Fellowship in Poetry, the Pushcart Prize, the Boatwright Prize from Shenandoah, the Richard Hugo Prize from Poetry Northwest, and the Angoff Award from the Literary Review. Her poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry, Orion, Southern Review, Tin House, and many other journals.