BACK WHEN GOODNIGHT TOOK HOURS
wet necks and button-fumble
fogging the windows of your dented Buick
its windshield often an impressionist
painting under rain.
My hips Matisse-Tahitian my apartment
a blowze of curtains open windows
your palm on my thigh.
It didn’t matter that you were a Jew I had not
yet overheard your mother say I was a nice girl
you shouldn’t marry.
We stole the marbled staircases
of the Walters Art Museum
glass columns housing
thin parchments of Rochester
Bibles the Book of Hours.
Whole afternoons spent
memorizing April’s Inventory
Heart’s Needle A Locked House.
Our dates were compositions of shared baklava
warm Italian bakeries mugs of dandelion tea
the clatter of almost empty pool halls
after Dorianne Laux
Your hot buttered rye on Sunday face.
Face I kissed, nuzzled, bit with lust,
nose like an L,
the dark fern hair
along the wooded footpath of your forehead.
Your cheap polenta meal of a face.
Your cherry blossom,
Madame Butterfly face.
Your flea market face, the friendship bracelet
and afghan blanket of your smile, its loop and knit.
Your red wine teeth,
hand on my thigh
under the table lips.
The free rent, let’s move in together of your eyes.
Your rocking chair, iced tea, screened porch face.
Your yellow jacket,
Face that launched a thousand skiffs,
the Chesapeake’s lap and pull. Your two-weeks notice
face whipping by
curtained with rain.
Honey and mint, monarch wing and cricket-song
mouth. Maryland summer face.
Your not yet,
it’s too late face.
Long evening, wait for fireworks, charred hot dog,
picnic blanket face. Lightning bugs faced in a jar.
Screw the hole-
set them free face.
IN THE BERNESE OBERLAND
When we came down from the north face
of the Young Virgin, we arranged to raft
the mighty Lutschine. At the shack,
they assigned us still-damp neoprene suits,
swim shoes floating like koi in buckets.
Our life vests hung from hooks.
On my helmet, YOU was written
across the forehead, BOSS on yours.
Near the river, we crystallized in the Swiss air.
Stepping in the raft while the river raged
ice-and-mountain-muddy beneath us
was not easy. Nothing about this
seemed like a good time, but you
were at the head of the raft.
I mimicked the young American girls in our group,
dug in and held on. Once we shoved off,
we had to ride it to the river’s foot,
skimming over slick boulders and rock bed.
When the land plateaued, you jumped in
the cold turquoise of Brienz.
The girls were wild with giggles,
chattering like lake dolphins.
You beckoned but I did not follow, afraid.
Having just left war, you belittled fear.
You needed all of me, in.
Danielle Sellers is from Key West, FL. She has an MA from The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and an MFA from the University of Mississippi where she held the John Grisham Poetry Fellowship. Her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Subtropics, Smartish Pace, The Cimarron Review, Poet Lore, and elsewhere. Her first book, Bone Key Elegies, was published by Main Street Rag. She teaches Literature and Creative Writing at Trinity Valley School in Fort Worth, Texas.