(After "Mother and Daughter
Barcelona, 1900" by Picasso)
Prissy and Missy go for a dance-
walk down the strutting avenue
in their pretty shoes and daring
skirts—a bit too tight and a bit
too short for the old decorum.
Boldly they flounce themselves
along through the golden mirrors
of the air; blithely they mince, and
glance, and smile, and flutter their
eyes, and form a flirting kiss with
their lips—and the day is so long,
and so bright, and so rare, that it
lets them go to the end of it before
they know what the next will know:
that there’s only one, as brief, and
free, and glad, and young, as this.
Somewhere an old shoe
lieth under a bed—
from its other—
lonely as someone
and searching still
for its mate
in a cadaverous closet
and making death
real for the
Time has captured them again, in silhouette,
these famous lovers, named Anon, who glide
among us with their timeless love.
Oh, I have seen them—one arm linked to his
bent arm—while she holds her skirt up from
the ground with the other—and he deftly holds
his top hat to his side and guides her leisurely
along—speaking toward her with his charm.
And I have heard their laughter—restrained,
flirtatious—and the swish-sound her dress
makes along the path, and the way his pol-
ished boots step ringingly beside her.
They do not know how time has passed them
by—that we are hurrying around them with
our later lives—crossing their slow meander
with our hurry, and watching the ever-
spinning skies pull us faster along.
But they remain impervious—they stroll and
murmur—moving in toward something de-
lightfully familiar—turn their backs to us, then
fade again—back to their time.
VISIT IN THE YEAR OF SNOW
in the year of snow
in the place of far away
white boots on our feet
we made our prints and lifted our face
to watch and feel the snowflakes fall
it was early night of our first day
the streetlight spread its yellow glow
around us in a soft tableau
and from her window
high above our play
Worry sat with envy on her face
watching us steal from her
our little fun
while on her wall
her little clock ticked on
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am here to
amaze you with my abstract presence.
Notice how the spotlight leaves me
stark, in exaggerated silhouette. That is
a clue. Notice how thin I am and how
nothing of me is attached to strings.
So—I am not a puppet. I belong to no
ventriloquist. My voice is my own—
though it does not carry—though I am
not a mime. The stage is bare on
purpose—I am on my own with you.
If you heckle, I will grow mute and
stand patiently still until you finish. The
microphone does not work, though I
always introduce the next act, which is
late. I can’t remember jokes, so I am
not funny. My boots are too big, so I
cannot dance. But I posture nicely, I
posture nicely, with my cane and my top
hat and the audacity of my wide mustache.
And you stay for my act, for I am famous—
a real old-timer, still hanging on to time.
And you need to laugh. So you stay in
the nostalgic dark with me—for you are
the audience, and I am the old familiar act.
THE RESORT IN WINTER
(After a photo by Teresa Tamura:
“I Am Becoming the Woman I’ve Wanted”)
Pull on black stockings. Dress for the day,
for the winter outside. Put on a long skirt
and a warm sweater. Layer yourself until
you are fit for the layering weather.
Put on boots. Leave the small bathroom
with its steamy mirror. Look to the day
which is passing by. Speak to yourself
about nothing in particular.
Walk down to the ocean; watch the gulls,
the waves; then turn to the town with its
little stores. Browse deeply for some
This is a holiday from your daily self; give
it a difference; study each new reflection
in each new glass or pulling shadow where
you walk, aimless and distracted.
You are here, and here is enough to be.
This day will be a turning point for you.
Turn when it does, back or forward
to the old or new.
(first pub. in EDGZ, 2003)
THE GIRL IN LEATHER
IN THE SAND PILE
sits deep into sand
digging her leather boot in
ignoring the winter
with a curious smile
all the tones
of the day are the same
the gray weather pleases her
she does not have to
grow up today
(first pub. in Paisley Moon, 1991)