Jennifer Gillespie

pinwheel of the child’s heavy white shoes
down the hill crying “Hi!” to her father
“daddy’s so small” she says to her friends
he takes her picture from the shadowed dip

sun on a green hill
still shadows, not carved—felled—on to this hill
the basin of the fountain ringed with chalky gold
waiting for its center to weep out, over its lip again
a small boy catapults his echo out over the hill
practices his voice’s stature, elasticity
no, he doesn’t know how words will torture tone
useless, or brave someday

girls lean down over toes, limp dancers
soft February air, a sling for their floating arms

companions, drawing near
sitting on a floor near the record pile
or a comet tail of girls running down a hill

he asked me to dance, half-time barely moving
near the small glass room full of plants, pencil drawings
of Joshua tree, slim unicorns

boys—men—when they edge out to you
pray for that warm inclusion of you, the women
pray for that subtle scissoring of his hand over yours
dancing: scissoring the hurt young woman
from the hurt, young man
still, a quiet, new tether
(do I make too much of this dance?)

and so you finally saw his offering
as a hole for your chattering refuse:
or a slick deafness

even when the tears arrived
after him in you
it was more of—what—
the pale, pinched sorrow
for still leaving him

he did not show any ruined fibers
no dangling stray heartbeats
were closed though he kept saying
love, no you did not see the hard drift
you wanted him to suffer

while you kept offering your slide show
the dark nights face down on the carpet
winter dusks walking to the bus
fearing your spirit
was shrinking, ’til the new thin bones
could only speak for you

yes the bones only to place you
in the cold blue world of this Texas
still drift past his clutch
broken by flush of electric noise
from the slip of door in that house
that house with a skeletal guitar strapped to its porch rails—

so this was drained on his big, blank veranda
while you kept thinking
he will summon it
the disheveled newness
of ocean, the prayer you need
the understanding of the masking
towards one more fissure
the grace of heavy sun
as it pulls up in morning
does not dangle—but stays
the change it carries down
thickening waves, the slit gold

no—no ocean.
though he offers to take you across it
but you know the taste of the oyster
its simpering, lush torso
flung slow into the mouth
the curl of juice behind it, the swallow
you know the long drive to the oyster house
the tape he will play you
gargled emissions you hate
the eventual turning towards the window, dismayed
you have to restrain the poles from splitting
him from you again
you have to place yourself in a box
moving with thick ocean shadow down a bridge
and dress the quickening, dark answers
only with his breath upon your hand

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