I don’t know what sort of beauty
to value anymore.
Three sparrows on the lilac branches
outside my window hop and spark
the morning with their hidden
red wings. Do you care?
How heavy the gnarled cluster
of bright life-gleam.
Listen, certain things are like roses
and other things aren’t.
I’m tired and so things settle into
their own shapes.
My hours cloud together
and everyone I love gets sicker.
Taking time off for the long weekend.
We gather on a sloped porch right by the bird tree.
All the little boys in the neighborhood
lie back on dry grass
clutching their imaginary wounds.
Beer with Aperol.
Cloud of smoke blowing away.
Her hand raises
in a lazy gesture
and so does mine.
and my mouth does the same.
She looks like I did
in an old mirror one time
in an old city.
Someone says something
about riding in a shopping cart
down a neighborhood hill.
Someone says something
The more I drink
the more I consider altitude
Look up at the top
of the cragged dusty cliff
and see the you that I am.
All shining and backlit.
There’s not much I can handle hearing.
The softer the music,
the more I want to be swallowed.
Be a peach,
not a woman who keeps doubling.
I’m sorry I need to feel everything is ok
all the time.
If you could,
place your thumb on my wrist
so we can feel our pulse beating.
Late August With a Bad Man in an Empty Town
Algae scum on the water.
Fish rotting the rocky shore.
Collapsed lungs of flowers
at the end of their small quiver.
I have begun to collect
small pieces. Eggshells
and glass from a burst bulb.
He is leaving the next morning,
pulling the red moon with him.
Making small tides in each mudpuddle.
These days, I only miss the tasks he gave me,
like watching for danger flickering across his eyes.
A small cloud gathering and snapping with electricity.
Over the fence, cows drift through the dust.
Their wisps of brown tail
and the strawgrass
bring death to the air.
Even as the manure, sweet
and full of life, claws across the roadway,
let me be sugar welling in the tree.
I’ve Heard That Change Is a Good Thing
Late into winter,
an older man blocks my path in the dairy aisle.
His shoes are boxy and black. Cold
blasting the small hairs on my neck.
I am grieving every day
in little increments.
The frozen cubed potatoes.
The collected frost along the shelf. His hands
are textured like a cow’s tongue.
Once I said I didn’t love you
and of course, I did.
Once I decided to no longer
decide. I would be a cornstalk, a snowdrift.
I would be a mirror
left hanging in an empty room.
there is no story here
only the soft hum from the water heater
and the low hanging black wires
leading to the socket
that although previously cobwebbed
had been found by more than one squirrel’s tooth
and so frayed
and so on this day sparked
because electricity somehow makes its way
through these human designs
and at some point in time
a person sat at a table or a desk or maybe
sprawled in the middle of their living room on a braided rug
and drafted long blue pencil strokes
and understood conductivity
and the thingness of energy enough
to design this hot water heater but unfortunately
this person was still a human who
maybe ate a sandwich from wax paper on a stoop
when it’s slightly too windy for stoop sandwich eating
and lost half of it to the sidewalk
and his cheeks grew hot from the shame
of being a grown man fumbling food in public
but the point is this man is just a man
and so the wires were not squirrel proof
and so they frayed and so they sparked
on this particular day when this particular person
this mother had emptied out the lint trap of her washing machine
located right next to the water heater
and flung it on the ground because
sometimes mothers just throw things on the ground
because like the man who designed her water heater
she is also just a man
and as everyone in the house was sleeping
as this mother’s family was sleeping this spark happened
and this spark found purchase in the coiled purple lint
Lucy Walker is a New England poet. She received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and has been recently published in [PANK] and Bodega Magazine.