The Sisterhood of Saint Philomena
A boy in her backyard is bending his head back to swallow the snow.
The roof moans and aspens sag under pleasant treachery. Now, the clapping,
the deconstruction of chalked apologies, an a cappella of wheels
on wet metal. The blizzard is up to his knees, but now
he’s a sapling wrapped in plastic.
“I have an idea”, says Ms. Happy Hour, stabbing banderillas
into Jack cheese. A man demands red. When she was seven,
she made the crossing in the trunk of a Chrysler. She eyes the 17
foot fir tree, gold swag, impaled cherub. “What’s that”, gripping his
Zinfandel. She spins on the lobby tile, floats above the atrium.
A krill run of headlights scatters down 101.
Nearness, and her nerve fails. Hugging the emptiness, her fingers splay
on her own shoulder blades. Once, she thought love was a stutter.
Her mom was her dad, they formed a consonant. Every union slaps
the back of her knees. The first star surprises her. She can follow the line
of the broken mountains. They are magnificent. They will die in Wyoming.
The near oak and the far Arch, a milo field of raised clubs. This bridge
with one foot among stunted redbuds, stretching to train yards of tagged
Same sky, different motive. Louise stands beneath Lindbergh’s monoplane.
She photographs the cockpit, the lens cap a hole in her palm,
her coat with its doveless sleeves.
He’s got her on hold. Somewhere it’s burning -- north
where the hills prop up an exclamation.
of paraffin, the faint sound of a third voice,
the handset's double helix.
This road's a ladleful of dark on mustard fields,
a gift of Brother Junipero, icon of devotion
to the next place, next thing. She finds a coffee shop
in Gilroy with its musk and old men's wattles
and a vacant lino top with two maps: one speaks
Monterey and one does not.
A tapping on the edge, the first few steps toward grace,
long bladed legs, scissoring the gray, making Mondrians,
eyes mid-lake, where city soot surrounds a waving hand, verdigris
and age-spotted, the congenial end of branches reaching
through the ice and jelloed muck, socketed in cold Missouri.
The wake of her Camaro snaps the rapt attention each
of countless ravens paid to something just
beneath Ohio snow.
She believes the Iowa elm is wider than she
is tall. And checks again, flat against the forest
floor. Lucy dreaming, drones dragging a queen
through her ear.