Where you Lost a Finger



On the phone when you were in Alaska The seagulls came close To your ear

Their tongues are black you said and long Men were chasing the birds With guns

And the birds were chasing You and it was the first time I heard Seagulls

Like that—like they were speaking directly To me—at the post office Waiting to mail your letter

An unwell woman behind me belittled The skirt I was wearing After the line, I was crying

In the parking lot And I was so young I did not see the romance Of a boat carrying my letter

To your boat



While the sea rocked you I sat in front of the air conditioner Like a hunk of frozen meat

I did not see the romance of making money Thought it was foolish To risk your life for it

Didn’t know then About life’s exigencies Awake asleep awake asleep In each other’s arms

I thought the day was a bottle of champagne

I thought eating an Iranian sandwich Was a memory

When you came back from fishing Your arms were muscled and brown A friend had chopped off my hair

While another friend videoed it But even that’s not a memory

A memory hurts

It scuttles past as immemorial And self sufficient As an insect



Some people don’t like endless night. But I liked Alaska. Black trees making up a mountain.

Going up the lift I thought of ways to tell you I don’t know how to ski, that I had lied about many things

More than once my moral crises have peaked On mountaintops—

We drank hot chocolate And took the elevator down—

But in Montenegro when I broke my foot on the mountain In front of the Lady of Good Health I declined to be helicoptered down, and the men and the stretcher.

I crawled down the mountain on my hands and knees I tried to really listen To what the earth was trying to tell me