We Wander Near the Water Quiet for a Time


Immense San Pablo Bay opens wide with late day sun. Greet the rounding bare unleash of mountains western spring winds wrestle skin to skin. Pelicans. We scamper for a cliffside bench and rest eyes closed to see. Air slips its softer currents as if we could transform like water. No. Found here is a deeper landed stealthy self—still as any geology. Sun gives all, ducks glide farther. Gulls go higher. Along my side, eyes in a smile is Leonardo. After years apart and his transition, we are finding here. We run for his roomy bed and toss loud window bluster and slamming thighs above. My round belly bows his high notes. At the kitchen table, we talk poetry and late fathers. He joins a Neruda poem with the full-throat of Mexico City, and I swing the trilling rungs of his soft palette. Together we make beet salad dressed with lime and sea salt so good his bronze tattooed hands his hips. Flowers on the table. Hold his shoulders he aches from hammers I dig my hands and ground my feet, bold as any western mountain. Pulled again by water speeding Bay Bridge lights. Lock the front door to arrive. Coyotes. Open the cool air of morning who is that woman shedding her fur in my dreams?


The Vigilance


“This is my mother!” I write in ballpoint sketchy blues on her hospital gown, hardly a gown, the thinnest thin to barely guard her breasts’ last warmth. A big new empty wing of Kaiser in the middle of our nights. A wide cheery nurse alone behind the counter station. Ask the question. “No, fear! I’ll be the one to bag her up and bring her down.”


“I know just how you feel,” she says and must have heard my wails. In time her dark soliloquy falls and breaks. “When mine went, there was no one left.” Beat     beat. She remembers something. “Except my husband.” Except her husband! Glad I’d stood and stood—ah ha!—until she was all storied out.


“This is my mother,” I write. Warn the other players


before morgue steel    before burning    ash. Her broken snaggle tooth jabbed that rosy lip since her dawn’s rolling fall     hours I held her dead limbs not cold, till nurse insisted. Empty wing.