No Valentine. Though Windy took me
to the Grange last night. Mrs Foster
frowns when that cowboy whistles.
Lucky for me, all the girls like to dance.
Wind from the northwest, cold and thick.
Snow by dusk. Storms approach like flocks
of swords. Summer Lake, an open wound.
The wind never lets up.
Last night, I tossed and turned. Tried
not to touch myself when the sleet came.
But June, ranch hand from Silver Lake,
fine red hair and gentle hands…
She found me in a sweat, entered my shack
through a trapdoor to a feverish dream.
I want a home with good bones, a bungalow
from the 1920s with mahogany columns and
beaded wainscoting in the parlor.
I want maple floors well worn from years of
children’s slippers, lath plaster, and an attic
where boys hid airline liquor and pinups.
I want a home with catacombs for walls,
where the man of the house once stashed
his mistress’s many perfumed letters.
I want an oak front door with leaded glass
transom, and a warped front porch, which
when walked across feels like sailing drunk.
I want hand-hewn siding and a porch swing
with braided ropes that creak to the cadence
of my daydreams. I’d swing there for hours,
Sipping bourbon, spitting tobacco, squinting
across the way toward the neighbor lady’s
upstairs bedroom window--
Then I’d raise my glass, the sun sinking
through it, and watch the last of the day
slowly undress those whitewashed spindles--
The afterglow of history gently revealed
on the many fine weather-worn bones
of my good home.
Full Lunar Eclipse, 1928
Windy left without a wink. His truck snaked north
along the stage route, left pumice stains, red plumes
on the bruised horizon. Hell-bent for a girl in Bend
whose father owns a mill, June says…
I scrub the griddle with Borax and gravel, so hard
my knuckles bleed. Beyond this hovel, dust devils
drill the onion flats, and the last of the geese
lift off from what’s left of Summer Lake.
Crazy-cracks riddle the playa. A drought they say.
All the women, but the sharecroppers’ daughters,
and a few teachers who’ve found better jobs,
will be wives by July. What am I going to do?
June leans forward, touches my wrist, says,
Follow your heart.