Today I dissected a squid,
the late acacia tossing its pollen
across the black of the lab bench.
In a few months the maples
will be bleeding. That was the thing:
there was no blood
only textures of gills creased like satin,
suction cups as planets in rows. Be careful
not to cut your finger, he says. But I’ m thinking
of fingertips on my lover’ s neck
last June. Amazing, hearts.
This brachial heart. After class,
I stole one from the formaldehyde
& watched it bloom in my bathroom sink
between cubes of ice.
Last night I threw my lab coat in the fire
& drove all night through the Arizona desert
with a thermos full of silver tequila.
It was the last of what we bought
on our way back from Guadalajara —
desert wind in the mouth, your mother’ s
beat-up Honda, agaves
twisting up from the soil
like the limbs of cephalopods.
Outside of Tucson, saguaros so lovely
considering the cold, & the fact that you
weren’ t there to warm me.
Suddenly drunk I was shouting that I wanted to see the stars
as my ancestors used to see them —
to see the godawful blue as Aurvandil’ s frostbitten toe.
Then, there is the astronomer’ s wife
ascending stairs to her bed.
The astronomer gazes out,
one eye at a time,
to a sky that expands
even as it falls apart
like a paper boat dissolving in bilge.
Furious, fuming stars.
When his migraine builds &
lodges its dark anchor behind
the eyes, he fastens the wooden buttons
of his jacket, & walks
outside with a flashlight
to keep company with the barn owl
who stares back at him with eyes
that are no greater or less than
a spiral galaxy.
The snow outside
is white & quiet
as a woman’ s slip
against cracked floorboards.
So he walks to the house
inflamed by moonlight, & slips
into the bed with his wife
her hair & arms all
like fish confused by waves.
beyond pheromones, hormones, aesthetics of bone,
every time I make love for love’ s sake alone,
I betray you.