Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Upstairs Room

Before moving in with a loving man,
I lived alone for five years.
I grew accustomed
to my own company, often making tea
by microwaving a cup of water
and sleeping
almost horizontally across the bed.

That might help explain why
I love this upstairs room
he must knock before entering
and where glass after glass of wine
piles each night because
it’s much easier to remember to drink
than it is to pick up after oneself.

Last winter I painted walls
that had been chipped
like china. When sunlight aims
like a spotlight onto the far wall,
blues, yellows, and greens
from every painting and trinket reflect
like a prism against the soft oatmeal color.

Now, at night, light comes
from one lamp,
and music plays faintly
as if from another room. I sit
in the only chair, yellow and plush,
and the cool breeze from the window
is a relief against my tired legs.

What I Bought in Paris

Not hats or coats, shoes, bottles
of wine or olive oil, paintings
sold on the street, soccer jerseys.
Not items requiring me to throw away
used underwear to make room
in my suitcase, items that at home
would take over closets, cupboards, or walls.

I bought trinkets so tiny
I can balance all three, carefully as I would
a baby bird, in one hand. One is
a snow globe, small and orange,
showing me what I did not see in person,
the Arc de Triomphe at wintertime,
as if something so famous and stately
needed all that flurry to be magical.

The second, a music box that plays
“La Vie en Rose” when I turn the crank.
I love to watch the gears inside and
zone out, imagine myself in the Latin Quarter
at night, dancing slowly while
shoppers and tourists look on, amused.

My favorite is a miniature Eiffel Tower
because of the long lines and two elevators
to get to the top, well over an hour’s time,
before being gifted the whole city,
spread out like a buffet for the eyes.
Yet here it is on my bookshelf, shrunk
to three inches, almost as if I broke a piece
right off the original to keep as my own.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Planning for the Future

My ex would imagine our future aloud,
him waving at the neighbors
with a pair of tongs, serving hot dogs
to our young sons while the baby kicked
and flung applesauce into the backyard.

I’d picture his good intentions
and red-rimmed eyes, too drunk even
to pick our children up, buying them televisions
and their own phone lines to make up for
screaming at them in the supermarket.

Ten years later I don’t have children,
but I have a backyard. I like
to sit on the patio and drink hot tea
even in summer. I take it with milk
since tasting it that way in London.

I also have a dog, stretched on his side
in the sun and having what I hope
is a happy dream. And I have you, figuring
our June bills inside, the college station
streaming classical music out the sliding door.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Ode to Washing Dishes

First, make sure your sink is under a window.
Look outside while you fill the basin. If daytime,
don’t scrutinize your lawn. Do laugh
at quarreling birds or your own yawning dog.
If night, be kind to your reflection.
Appreciate your long arms that disappear
at the wrists and the wrinkles at your mouth.

Don’t think of this task as another in a hundred.
It is the reward when those are done,
the chocolate mousse after steamed vegetables.
If the hot water and bubbles,
the lavender smell, the wine glass
to your left and soft terrycloth
against your bare shoulder are not a comfort
in this late hour, then you are doing it all wrong.