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Prairie Schooner 79.1 (2005) 87-90

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Three Poems


The heart wants what the heart wants,
and what it wants is fire.
My friend Roz, six months into a relationship
with a seemly man, dumps him
and says, There's no fireworks.
Roz wants the full-scale Grucci display -
her lover a licensed pyrotechnician,
Roman candles manually fired,
multi-color scenes, a barrage
of illuminations, the sky pulsing,
and always the Grand Finale.

Think of that woman in Colorado,
a forest ranger, who goes into the woods,
a letter from her estranged husband
clutched in her fist, a firestorm in her heart.
She reads the letter one last time,
strikes a match and kindles his words,
watches them shrivel.
Think of the entire forest in flames,
the blaze billowing and consuming,
trees surrendering to fire,
skeletons of timber, and charred remains.

And now I learn that silicone in the breasts
must be excised before cremation
or it blows up, liquefying to a dangerous substance,
destroying the crematorium.
I'd like to have breasts like that -
round and full, earth-tipped and tilted [End Page 87]
heavenward, the kind that ignite and explode.
I'd like my breasts to burst into flame,
spreading like wildfire,
tongues of scarlet licking the walls.
I'd like breasts just that white-hot
as once they were under the touch
of my lover, so recently departed.
I'd like to burn the crematorium down.

The Summer He Left

The lawn filled with dandelions.
Because weeds meant he was gone,
she thought they were beautiful,
a blanket of gold over the green.
Because weeds on grass meant
he wasn't coming back, she was not
afraid. The whole world turned
yellow. No longer cowering
behind the mountain, the sun rose
like Lazarus and warmed the earth.
Marigolds bloomed in the garden.
Sunflowers sprung up like born-again
Christians - lemon lilies, goldenrod,
buttercups, and coreopsis. Bees, dizzy
with temptation of yellow, buzzed
in their velvet tutus. Tiger swallowtails
flapped wings, slow-motion applause.
Goldfinches, orioles, warblers,
not missing blue, jazzed the trees. [End Page 88]
At night, the sky streaked with topaz.
The stars, those little cowards, crept out
of their hiding places. Orion lit up
the dark. K-ROCK blared golden oldies,
and she danced to the Yellow Rose
of Texas and Tie A Yellow Ribbon,
danced like some wild thing,
her straw-colored hair whirling in circles,
the miller's daughter at the wheel,
all around her yellow spinning out gold,
and more gold, not fool's gold, but real.


My husband is saving the worms again.
All night, heavy rain, now the driveway crawls
with worms, afraid of drowning, but so dumb
they will broil to death in the sun, except
for my husband who picks them up,
one by one, places them on the still-wet grass,
then drives to work without even washing
his hands. I imagine him in his office sniffing
his fingers for the earthy scent of worms,

and I remember being 6 and loving
worms, collecting them in a worm bin,
a five-pound pickle bucket, so I understand
his affection. I filled my bin with a bedding
of peat moss and soil, soaked and squeezed it
by hand, punctured breathing holes in the lid. [End Page 89]

I took a trowel into the garden and dug
for worms. Pink, gray, and reddish-brown.
The long fat ones I loved best, the way they shrunk
and stretched when touched. The way they reared
their heads. I fed them chicken mash, decayed leaves,
and kitchen waste. I wanted my worms to live.

No eyes, no ears, no backbone, no legs.
Each a tube inside a tube, like a knife in a sheath.
Hermaphroditic. Conjoined by a slime tube.
My worms multiplied. I imagined the five pairs
of hearts, their blood, red like mine.

This was nothing to do with sex - I was 6!
This was tactile, olfactory. I wanted the feel, the smell
of worms in my hands, on my skin.
Sometimes I lay down on the floor...


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