An Ordinary Life
It makes you so mad that your whole
life you’ve had barely enough privileges that you can’t
justify your rage in anything, you can’t hate
people who kill animals because you wear
leather shoes, and poverty, and filth,
and squalor, and opulence, are things
your parents sent you to Europe to see and beauty,
beauty lives all around you and says,
You are second child of educated parents,
you color your curly hair blonde.
You are five foot six and have learned to read.
Beauty shakes its head and says,
Why not let this be enough?
Instead, you’ve decided that
All your life you will hunger for me
and eat and eat but never be filled.
All your life you will pray to me.
I will hear you but never reply
All your life you will grope and grab for me
and I will let you touch me
but never, never, will you deserve it.
And the real blessings I grant you are
the right from time to time
not only to speak to no one on buses,
to sit by the windows in restaurants
and look out them,
and the right to believe
in the gestures of others,
to wake some Saturdays to the doorbell
and a friend who says, Look,
I’ve brought you breakfast,
to open the bag and see it there,
eight bagels, two tea bags,
juice and cream cheese.
Friendship in Translation
We both know moonlight shining
through a crack in the gate means
leisure. Darkness is a man tattooed
for battle; you radiate nothing
but light. You worship a goddess
so pale, arched and slender she
is almost a crescent moon and
nothing more; I cannot trust her.
Still, you gave me your right hand,
then your left, while the rest
of you is reserved for a woman
who provides you with children
but turns away from the small
scratchings you say are stories.
Once I forgot the word for
bitterness. You thrust your hand
into the air, then smiled until I
parted my lips to smile back.
And then you placed your fingertip
on my tongue, certain I would
recognize the lingering taste.
I do, even in this small dose.