At the card store she chose the pictogram for ‘clarity’ over the pictogram
And the light said, Be mine.
And you said, Could you put a little yellow in it, could you make it
a little warmer―
And the light said, Lie down with the coats of the lovers who are
rising up out of a field full of poppies―
As she was explaining the difference between ‘honest’ and ‘true,’ the Russian
student took her hand in his, saying You don’t have to be teacher, all the time.
You tried to draw sunlight on waves but it was elusive.
During the tarot reading she received ‘happiness’ in the place of decision
Beached shapes were easiest: sea-kelp down with its string of black flies, raven
picking through the drift―
Thinking about the card store: ‘happiness’ was something to buy
not able to escape the feeling that it was trite―
then strife, with all its agitations―and futility, the certainty that forbids
Sometimes she was happy: the city in winter, under the cutting light,
that she yearned for through all the heated bleedings of summer―
The light saying, Be mine.
You saying, Tear the dark caul from the sea.
“Painting Vacation” is from Wedding Day (Copper Canyon Press, 2005).