In the sunrise house walking on stilts, the snake-filled water rises. It’s Sunday morning. I am old, very old, my joints as conspicuous among my limbs as the lead strips between stained glass. I’ve lost my glasses. It’s not my house, but the house of a friend. You are not so concerned about what kind of friend he is to me because you are fixed on the snakes. They are not venomous, not large, not hungry, and though I have lost my glasses I can see the lovely bands of red and black and gold roiling through the water that slips up against the breakfront, the wicker rocker, the pine sides of the bookshelf. I am still afraid, you know. I’ve lost my glasses. We have been here a long time, well supplied, because no one is coming to save us. No one can catch a house on stilts. The air rushing through the windows is warm, the water—more alive than water ought to be—is cool, it’s a washcloth in the feverous night. I’ve lost my glasses and of course we are not in love and there’s nowhere we should be but here, this Sunday morning in the sunrise house.
The trick is to offer the unexpected: a drive to the market, an hour on the lake, saint-like conviction. Avoid ostentatious gifts. Bring fragile tokens: orchids, eggs, joy. He might need some time. While you plan, keep your mind occupied with the long game. Save for the ring. Name your children. And then, when he’s done waiting to happen, maybe tomorrow, or a good year, or some quiet heat-hazed afternoon in your hometown, he’ll accept your proposal. There’s the striking smile, then the settling: his face bland as a sugar cookie, ordinary as summer ice melting before you have a chance to drink.
Cross My Ocean
After we outgrew the hollow circle and the taste for falling together safely, we learned to lock our limbs into lines, face off equal across the blacktop. Bolder than whisperers,
some kid picks, and they call for you—come over, come over—either to break through their arms, bash fingers into fists, slam brick and skim tar, free—or to spring
back between ranks, belly full of ache, claimed.
come over, come over, come over, come over, come over, come over, come over, come
Now schoolyard sharks circle, don’t eat. They turn tender arms and fingers fronds to catch and keep. No one falls. They play until the sea’s all anemone and teeth.