Her hands were like an old woman’s
Thin bony and gnarled
Thick veined and sharp knuckled
Hands that have lived.
I held them once, when it was cold
To warm them.
I wave hello when I pass your street
and remember when your hands waved goodbye.
Those hands are cold now.
The water took what little warmth you had
From thick veins and sharp knuckles.
And I can never warm your hands again.
This Fragile Thing
We examined each other
across the dim, small room.
His brow furrowed,
He regarded me as if I was
a wounded animal,
a cracked vase–
And I guess I was.
The Coat of Stolen Colors
You are my desire unveiled.
Beauty and grace and charm
Holy beyond reach.
Everything I wanted.
You are my crippling blow,
All my ambition wasted and vain.
The fruits of my labor, my loyalty,
The petitions of my heart denied.
Denied, and transferred,
As easily as cashing a check,
Scrubbing out my name.
Don’t trouble yourself.
They’ll write your name in the space just fine.
They promised me honor and rewards for my service.
Me, loyal as a dog.
Recompense as natural and expected as
A banker and his watch
Or a soldier and his pension.
They didn’t give me a whole coat of colors
Lapis and ruby and gold thread
They gave me a remnant,
Misdyed and stiff with selvage
Orange red pink green blue
Gold tinsel stripe
Colors of the morning.
I cherished it,
Made a shawl to fool myself
Into thinking it was my promised coat.
You saw it,
And though the coat the elders wove for you
Was double-thick with my lapis thread
You came in love
Kissed me on both cheeks
Called me sister
Slipped the remnant from my shoulders
(But that was okay. I loved you.)
Your thin deft fingers
Unwove the colors of the morning
Plaited them into a rope
Strung it around me for a necklace
And hung me on a tree.
You took the threads of golden tinsel
Freed from the lesser cloth
And wore them in your hair for a crown.
His sweater ended in points on his shoulders.
An easy fix.
Smoothed out with fingers,
then folded and shelved.
But I did neither.
He was not mine to care for.