Grade A: Near

Birmingham, AL, December 2000:  addressed to Leisha Hultgren.  Written on my third and final trip to Alabama to be with Leisha.  The phrase “mother’s water” is lifted from a poem of Mary Rechner’s, “First Water.”  Published in my books The Closed Shrine and Wings of the Gray Moon.



On the travelling globe

any staying is a going.


The beaked shoulderblade

cresting hot beneath your pajamatop

beneath my palm

already clacks flat in a grave

and still coalesces in a womb

out of mother’s water.


If I forget to rest,

this is because

I’m being carried.

If I shun movement,

this is because

your blood breathes fine and pink

against my hug.


Once I stood before you

before my bath

and you wound the burning smudge

around me naked,

and everything under my nostrils

became sweet, but still

a sweet of burning.