Or Two Cans Tied Together with String


My wife sings like laughing
water in a pot, peels
onions for a stew that will
by evening’s end simmer with
the old earth smells of lamb and
rosemary, potatoes and saffron,
all other scents just quiet clamor
in the steam leaking out
the open window above the sink,
where minutes ago she
gathered in the bird and kissed
the gray down of its neck
before tugging loose the note,
before returning it to the air.


I fell asleep mid-afternoon
and woke to bells and the dusty tin
notes of an antique piano, flurries
aging the early evening. I made
a sandwich of mustard and cheese,
stood at the window watching
the music blow with snow
in the back yard, wrapped
a Chinese fortune around my last
pigeon’s rickety left leg
and climbed the rope ladder
to the roof to let it go.


Once I hid a love note
in her sock drawer and waited
months until she found it.
By then nothing had changed.
Which is a way of saying love
is a glacier devouring the daisies
in a mountain meadow:
they disappear so slowly
we forget to remember the beauty.


I slid the cold pigeon inside
my shirt before returning it
to the cage. My wife was
singing “Ruby Mae,” the window
still cracked enough to let out the song
with all that steam, the sounds
beneath the smells, how a voice
changes over time and distance.
Or it doesn’t.

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