the purple cosmos died in the garden before the frost

my mother drilled fingers into black seaweed to put on compost

the roses would be stronger she said

rocks gathered at the shore -we put fireflies in our mouths

to light the way across to the mainland

 little clangs from a buoy drifted to our ears, alone in the black sea

a seahorse greeted us with a tail of gold sequins no different 

than the man I loved on some nights

when the winds weren’t too hard

he cut big fish in two with one straight, flush slice

he used his teeth when he finished

his arms full of scales, translucent- stuck to elbows and arm pits

we ate cracked ceramic plates to test our love

 my father  said he was quiet and good

I knew that too

Though I  wanted a suited man with fancy leather shoes

softly crossing a city street- a finance man

the house I came from broke in shreds, wood and plaster

the roses vanished under new tenants

the dining room with all the mad talk and people both dead and alive 

quieted down,  silence grew roots enough to choke the city man

and the other one married some local- she’s fat and pregnant now

- when the fog horn thrummed low enough to breathe

we remembered what was left, the debris after a big storm

the rib cage of metal

a parrot who sat in the  corner and laughed with us 

one cat with no ear and dogs with bad legs who bathed in wine at our feet

old pilings of driftwood, the fancy silver was stolen, all the books

turned to ash, junebugs died by morning, their little shells I saved

and then they were lost in some  garage 

 my toenails were buried in a basement of someone I didn;t know or love

it was a new house, the ugly prefab kind  

a chemical spill stretched the eastern seaboard

the tides all rose so noone could have first floors

curtains ripped and were made into dresses for stoic, old women

in nursing homes who complained all day

of people talking on cellphones

sputtering monosyllables through open space


we lost our family name, the screws rusted, the wood floorboards

were packed in big duffel bags and carried to war

boys spat venom and then kissed me between thighs of waxy flesh


where I wrote my last word

the everything that was