I said I wouldn't go anywhere with a man whose work hurt his hands.

Suppose this poem isn't for you. I could forget about rigour,
let exactness bleed heat in circles and circles until fog begins to feel
its age—an awkward day.  I forgot what I said and thought I was a fanbelt,
sat in the lap of another woman's son.

Damaged fingerprints scorched these holes along my arm.

The many headed sunflowers churned up a glass bead with their feet.
I saved it in a box with a sigh and a jade heart.  Later I called it totem.
For him I had saved nothing.  How one line hides behind another.

The day moving into me.  Ruined hands unplaiting the ache in my hair.


I started this way    a woman's body
silence    a thing of leaks and shivers.

So what happened?

He touched me for no reason—a country man.
He can't be seduced with words.

Start it again.

His hand on my arm, I said nothing
of desire; slipped through strain and time.
A child half sleeping in my father's car..
Hank Williams playing low.  I watched for animals;  their eyes
returned the headlamps.  We were going home.

And you said nothing.

I didn't say—this is my body, damp pale skin
the birches fabric holds a silence—
or turn my face swamp irises blue
floating in a crystal bowl.

I saw this was life's contract.
To show up late, hands in my empty pockets a
and I thought I shouldn't
but I have to make it like a picture

this is my body    flaring in the vibrant night
going nowhere    going slow.


The night your husband forgot to get you after work four boys stopped for
you outside the bar and raped you by the road while I lay sleeping in my
bed; in the morning I slipped into the woods and let the school bus pass,
crossed snow filled streets to find your door.  The door was open.  I would
have rushed in to grab your screaming baby but the wind turned me to see
you run through blowing snow across the Mission Bay I also ran and ran and
hauled you back from where currents in the river thin the ice.  I can't
remember dragging you back up the hill, you in your thin white night gown,
bare blue feet.  Sandy.  I was fourteen. I came by to hold your sleepy baby.
To drink your smoky tea.

I heard you took your baby, remarried, were happy down in Ottawa.  I stuck
my thumb out by that same road, came west as far as I could go, forgot you
till last winter.  I was so homesick I would have stuck my tongue on frozen
metal but summer came. Dazed and thick with blood, I was in love.  All
summer I thought no one was there . . .

but this is what happened when I wouldn't write about your rape.  My boss
told me to wear a dress instead of jeans to work. I put on flesh—coloured
hose, lipstick, Code Red from Paris and something white.  I lined my eyes
with one pound black.  I borrowed your eyeline pencil, Sandy.  I knew you
wouldn't mind.

Cops followed me to run my plates, stock boys fell over helping me shop.
My neighbour said, "I see you go to work, it makes me hard." Somebody
wrote, "You got yourself another stalker." I prayed my car wouldn't break
down on the road.

I didn't know the day I held you and your shaking baby I would learn a
way to tell it it—that all men are girls before they are boys but Shahid
means witness in Persian, beloved in witness.  Or else its the other way
around.  You weren't there, only your body without an entrance wound.

There is no right word for the woman who wears her hair loose in our
country.  No right word.  I will find it.  I will not say it.  Sandy.  Your slow


I came in out of the sun, passed the dripping pump,
the cabinet where they keep the bottles. Lilac-dropped florets,
punctures in the table cloth. My parents weren't there eating.
I found the baby sleeping in their room,
climbed the black stairs to the attic, my father flat on the bed
bare backed to the waist, my mother studious above him.
For now her hands held mortal concern, pale birds picking steady
over his farmer's tan, she tweezered bits of shrapnel,
his body quiet, a footstep in a giant trance.
How long did I stand there dressed in sound and silence?
There is no first word to touch the beginning of desire.
Later I would know how young they were;
the sun came on all January. I never dreamed to meet a man I hoped to keep.
He was talking politics, the game. I managed not to sit there thinking,
do animals believe in foreplay. It got to be a stubborn metaphor,
the kind the dead have patience with—a woman opens the silent crypt of sex
and turns a corner in the air—
I was through picking the lock, needed his help to tip the chicken semi over,
see how far we got before they caught us. For this I needed, yes, my
longest memory of tenderness.
Not the lilac wounded purple deep.
        Tweezers over my father's back, the yellow smell of ozonol.
Enormous stupefaction.
The pump dripped through my sleep all winter. Common linkage promises
what blue air.
Do animals stop to care if they believe in foreplay?
Their season comes a passion and disturbance steering into summer. Traffic
interruptions. Roadwork.
Grass fires blue the air.
                  I think they're never going to catch us.
The sun threaded its ribbons through my hair.