There’s plenty that think we’re twins. By 18
we’d both wished secretly that it was true,
& that it wasn’t. Since we were 9
we met here on stealth banks of August,
each year another savior & sweet thanks be
to Jesus for that old row boat.
Remember my instructions when we met?
I’d bent a coffee can into a scoop to hunt
the mud banks for crawfish. “The whole
trick with blue pinchers is getting in behind
without setting off a stir on their tail.” Now
we’re getting to be His age. But apart
from watches and sky dates, you know how to find me
when my head’s full of scuppernong blossoms.
So we cast off past wisteria
& into night silk beyond the river’s edge. Empty skins
of tree snakes, ash vibrissa, draw the canopy.
Tangles of moss wisp past my cheeks,
fall out of a lullaby. No moon. If I spark my lighter,
willows young & old pretend they don’t breathe
in the dark, don’t slip thru nights
in tangos with cypress & Saturn tuned into bent
underwater reeds. Posed. They stand like a big-city
crowd at a bus stop, & just reach
off the bank for elbow room. Come out that white blouse
& upside down, you watch open lilies fall away,
a bird’s eye vision
of your daddy’s parachute into the Mekong Delta.
A back bend arched over the bow, your bare torso slips
thru a summer breeze, cuts
a hush in the cicada din. A pale gash torn past my lips
leaves the night open. Light-plays off my chrome
Zippo. Hersey’s kisses harden
into rose thorns dense as a shut eye’s faith in Tarot.
My name, dry salt on an arch smooth eyebrow,
vanishes into steamed woods and gut-heavy
air like sweat into a prayer for rain. We take on water
in each Decatur Street groan for Mercy. It’s far too late,
slipway a damned sight too steep
for Esperanto or one-eyed jacks. To pull the moon
back with cracked oars curved like tusks, you’d better
mean it. It’s about time for round two.
Oceanus descends with an acetylene tear & dreams
of a blue tip, a cool flame; the other eye’s been gone
for years, blind & lid turned cold side out.
“Masqualéro” is from Paraph of Bone & Other Kinds of Blue (Copper Canyon Press, 2001).