Down the Shore
We take mental pictures of our new commute
over the wind-deaf causeway
comparing these to postcards of ancestral coal mines.
Soon we have named every seagull on the island,
one timid evening discovering that tuna tastes best when smoked with pine.
You find a silk scarf the color of lemons
and leave it on my vanity table.
Twice a day, a huge truck carrying who-knows-what,
probably repossessed cities, roars past our cheerful teardown.
We make a ritual of closing the windows just in time
to keep road dust from coating the grand piano.
This piano has never been cleaned, not a single feathered swipe,
since our hero Sergei knocked at the door and asked to use the phone.
Though he never sat down to play, didn't even enter the room.
When minnows start schooling in our basement and nightlights become all too naturalistic,
we hire our own children to prop the timber-frame up on poles,
like an upside-down cheese platter.
But the measuring tape was snapped once too often or left out in too many thundershowers.
We rename our home The Cheese Platter anyway.
You take up spearfishing till Steve loses an eye.
Debts pile up in one way or another, and we have to find a lodger.
She is blond and telescopic, always standing temptingly by windows, silhouetted.
She beckons you to rummage some bottomless goodie bag of irrelevant spheres.
She introduces you to crowds of bright squares. My face hurts after a while.
But by then you've built an observatory.
There is dust everywhere,
except on the powerful lenses
and the furthest reaches of her galaxy.
There is dust on my corneas. I leave it there.
Our children enter strange professions and insist on cooking for me,
while your conferences on spaghettification stretch endlessly late, well past first light.
I demand perfect marshmallows, bindhi masala, spaetzle, fermented cordials.
There will be no soup, no store-bought mayo! Sometimes I wail so hard I retch.
No one is permitted to vacuum or move
my growing collection of razor clams
from the shelves.
One of these days I may craft a pliant frame and string them up at various heights,
then hang this outburst in the foyer, which must be crossed to get anywhere in this hellhole.
The sound whenever a person, any person, passed through would calm me,
like a chorus of reclaimed daggers, keeping my daydreams in check.
That is the plan anyway, but today a letter arrived.
A letter from a man who calls himself Simon.
Simon heard about my collection
from his trespassing cockatoo.
As you can see, my salvation could hardly have made sense.
No local health clubs or hypnotherapists pop up on the map.
I learn to tolerate this parrot squatting on the rim of my tea saucer
as Simon holds me on his lap.
He holds me on his lap and cleans my face with a cloth.
One cloth after another.
Eventually, I have nothing more to say but
Are you hungry yet?