How to Sort Tomatoes
At the A&P my grandmother rolled her hands
over produce aisles, picking up tomatoes
checking for color, for cracks, for sunken soft spots
making sure it didn’t sink in on itself as she held it;
that the skin didn’t slide.
You keep your arms crossed
covering soft spots—
left on the windowsill past ripe.
We lay in the garden
your eyes to mine,
my eyes to the moon, then,
to the grass.
I leave my body’s impression too easily.
When I hold you,
you fold under the weight of me.
I pull your face into new expressions,
funny ones, sad ones.
I pull your fingers encircling mine.
I stare at the spaces around the sun,
checking for color, for shape, for sunspots
but it’s too bright to see.
How fast did she toss you—did she feel you sinking in—
didn’t want to be pulled down into you?
She asked why you weren’t red,
and touched your too-soon wrinkles.
She picked at you,
you pick at them;
thumbing over spots and discarding.
I’d trace your freckles with my fingertip,
but your brightness obscures
your body’s starspots.
She was a tackle box full of thread and needle,
bits of scrap metal, paint sets, nuts, bolts, screws,
macaroni and Elmer’s glue, scissors and construction paper,
gas flames, an electric arc, a laser, an electron beam,
circuit boards, sculpting clay, typewriter keys, jars of glitter,
strings and beads, wires—she was a heart-maker and they’d come to her
with empty chests, saying,
“I must’ve left it in the pockets of the blue pants I sent to be dry-cleaned,”
“I think I set it down in the dressing room,”
“I swear I had it this morning.”
And so she’d assemble them new ones—customized, fully functional,
and they’d thank her and shake her hand
and run their fingers through her beads
and ask how much for accessories before swallowing the heart
she made, they’d wait for the beating to start
to love someone not her,
and then the breaking to start,
and the forgetting to start
and the losing to start
and they’d come back to her.
Falling for Her
Your friend looks up at you,
serious now, says,
“You’re falling for her.”
You smile that smile that
really isn’t one, sinking under
the RAM and sensory memory—(shut off the power and it’s gone);
the hard-drive and the cortex—
the cortex, a cache storage.
In you, what would be RAM transfers to long-term memory
when you’re asleep,
you wake up, look at her,
grasping at what you said,
what she said—
her dress on the floor,
mascara smeared beneath seas of hair—she is as fragile now
as she was beautiful then.
You blink away 64 bits of information at each clock cycle.
You want your synapses to stop strengthening—
stop weakening—stop storing information—
so much like a computer, yet there’s something else there
that isn’t on a circuit board.
Between chemical changes at connection points,
you try “clear history” of all the memories of her
and all the hers
and all the implications of falling.
You wonder why it isn’t lifting
she is not an anchor.
Falling is too quick,
and you are not so quick—
(curled under your sheets,
you think she is small enough to fit inside a seashell).
And she could not be so quick to lift you.
For her, for you
it isn’t so smooth as falling and landing.
It is a constant lifting motion—she offers to be a crane,
though not as able—still afraid of reaching the bell
at the top of the rock wall.
Says she can’t promise she won’t want to let go
and free fall.
She doesn’t want to be linked,
like you don’t want to be linked—
doesn’t want to be an astronaut alone beneath the saltwater,
keeping you in place—but ocean waters away.
Nobody wants to be held too tightly
their eyes see shirt stitches instead of sunsets.
But the neurons make their connections—
and you remember her soft, breathing
like a balloon,
and if tangled in you,
she might lift you up.
Don’t look at me like I drew wings
between my shoulder blades,
picking out pulled feathers from my pores
as if I were a down pillow
because I guessed ships and cars
sank and wrecked in your ribcage.
Everyone is a vessel of ruins,
of Macchu Piccus, of Pompeiis,
of Babylons, of Colosseums.
Brokenness doesn’t always discourage tourists.
When kissing you, it isn’t hard to taste the ash,
the rot with the sweet,
the mint, the alcohol—
it is almost like tasting wine.
Starting, straight angle view—
the color range rolled against the edges;
side view to spot brilliance,
tilting the glass so the wine thins out;
swirling to check for tears,
quick short inhales through the nasal passage
then a small sip held inside the cheeks:
fruity, flowery, herbal, grassy with hints of vegetation,
earthy, leathery, smoky, honeylike,
vanilla, beer-like, oaky—
complex yet balanced
—we are only complex.
It isn’t just your chest, a clock,
and my ear that listens to hear blocked trains and springs,
to notice the minute wheel is turned 20 minutes ahead
(when you’ll have left these sheets walking down Odessa Dr,
swinging car keys)
and the hour wheel spun so far back,
the hours are months—
it is still set on the last girl.
It isn’t just you, who runs this clockwork.
It isn’t just you, who doesn’t tell the right time.