He just hasn’t made my bed yet,
she used to say, when the ground grew too hard
and she’d sit on a pillow to weed the garden,
when her skin had been folding up for years
and her world had long been slipping toward silence.
It wasn’t that she wanted to leave us,
but I think she was tired.
Did she picture sheets made of stars, smooth
and tucked in like clouds, maybe
smelling like spring blossoms, or like old pine?
Did she dream of quilts crafted by
his careful hand, filled to the binding
with a century’s worth of stories—did she want to see
his gentle smile as he drew the covers to her chin,
did she imagine clean summer wind
as she slipped away to rest at last?
She left so much behind, even my house bends
to gather the pieces. My mother tends
bereaved orchids at the window and keeps
one of her blankets on the living room couch, which
I’ve been hiding under and wondering
if we got it backwards all along: could it be
we were the ones who made the bed, smoothing
sheets and trembling at the emptiness beneath,
the best our human hands could do—
we braced ourselves for night, and
maybe we were wrong,
maybe he burst into the room and threw back the curtains,
maybe he pulled her up as sunlight streamed in
and he sang in his joy, I couldn’t wait
to wake you, there is so much for us to do today,
so many birds and trees and flowers to see,
mountains to scale with your new strong knees and
rivers to splash with your new young feet,
a whole city to show you and all your friends
looking for you, my darling,
my little girl, get up!



my mother had the time to gasp
before the bowl scattered
and left its negative behind:
an old friend’s shadow, told
in the space between pieces.



The new gods still play old tricks,
but we have lost some of our wisdom.

I think maybe my ancestors knew:
gnarled carrots and lopsided smiles were just
the way of things, the warm and imperfect
voice of the earth. Nobody asked apple trees
to bear crystals, or women to bear marble—only

fools, open-mouthed, scrabbling at      

        Ellen really did it, can you believe?
        Traded her baby boy for one of the fae!
        Oh sure, he’s beautiful, but
        she hasn’t heard what happened to
        old Katherine’s second one, seventeen
        years past? Grew up a right horror, he did.

ghosts all dressed up
like the backs of their eyelids.

I think we used to know.

These days we have worn our pockets out
with asking, and our gods yield freely,

        There is a fragment of the sun
        caught in your hair, so that
        I want to weep . . .

delighted, while lethe slips under our tongues;

we reach for the same illusions now
and never stop to wonder. Our grandmothers
tried to warn us, and we laughed until

        All perfect
        All mine

we cried, jaws unhooked and gaping.
We fastened the chains with
our own hands.


Signs of Christmas Lingering

You’re drinking gingerbread tea from a paper cup
with snowmen waving at you under the rim,
and the clementine you just ate
was your fourth of the day.
Your vacuum cleaner smells like your Christmas tree.
There is a dark-green ornament hook snagged
on your fuzzy reindeer socks
and you’re looking at a jar full of colored
marshmallows that nobody is going to eat.
Your father offers you a mostly-melted
peppermint chocolate that he left in his pocket all day
(or longer, you’re not sure).
You’re wearing four blankets
so the fireplace on the TV seems almost real,
and the twinkle lights are still twinkling outside,
and you’re finding it very difficult
not to smile.