Forkful of Artichoke
He thinks I can will myself to love him,
when I know love as a species of hunger.
I know the heart, like the stomach
cannot will itself to appetite.
Rum-drunk, dry-lipped, stoned at 3 a.m.,
we sat beside a garden of shivering daffodils
and I noticed again how weary his eyes had become.
Dragging his thumb through ketchup,
and rearranging french fries in their Styrofoam,
he recited the praises of his drowned home.
I helped him pin the tragedy to his chest
like a boutonniere and listened all night long
to bars from his city’s broken song. In return,
I receive a bouquet of ketchup-tipped fries for roses.
In my kitchen, I imagine touching his face
and conceding— he’s my best friend,
it would be convenient. He already knows
most of my secrets; I know all his limitations.
We are both tired of eating alone.
April comes grey and chilly this year.
He can believe in binaries, that it is love
or that he means less to me than this artichoke
I pluck, leaf by leaf, dipping each in a mixture
of Dijon mustard and mayonnaise.
I scrape their bellies off between my front teeth
all in anticipation of the heart, the only chewable part
of the whole damn vegetable.
And I’m sorry his city washed away. I want him
to be happy. I want him to be happy.
He says listening is no longer enough.
If he thinks I can swallow the whole heart
without chewing and not choke on choke,
let him watch me glut myself on this sad feast
and then, maybe then, he will sleep.
When My Aunt Talks About Hawaii
It is because she has been cornered in the kitchen
and her husband is in the next room watching football.
He does not like to hear about her one adventure;
he does not like her voice even, though it is sweet, and low.
When Margot talks about Hawaii, it is a matter of facts,
she followed her boyfriend there and stayed
nine years. An accountant can find work
on any island. She never mastered surfing,
but her boyfriend tried to teach her.
He had a religion built around water,
he never got sick, he never worked, just surfed
and swam and drove his jeep around Oahu.
He was obsessed, she says, with the water.
She stares at the dimpled wine in her glass.
The healing water, he called it, she says.
Her husband in the next room overhears and scoffs.
He calls for another beer and she brings it to him,
after a long sip at her chardonnay.
When she talks about Hawaii she is happy, I think,
she makes a swimming motion with one hand as she pours more wine.
She is talking and someone is listening intently.
After Margot talks about Hawaii
her contacts seem bluer and she sits thinking for a long time.
There was a native man there, who prized her.
He called her his sweet pineapple
and ran his fingers through her blonde hair.
In Hawaii there was a man, I am almost certain,
who never let her see the bottom of her glass.