(performed at Orcas Center, Spotlight on Local Poets, April '10)
I’ve been looking at my ankles today.
After the shoe store where he said beautiful ankles.
I don’t believe him, but I’m looking anyway.
Nothing new down there, intersection of foot and leg.
Must be a fetish guy.
My newly beautiful ankles could wind up bound up.
Telephone cord. Putrid mattress. Freeway motel.
But I’ve been trying to remember since beautiful ankles, when have you said it?
Of finger, toe, blade of shoulder?
Perhaps never, but I decided to love you anyway.
You say pretty, the general, not specific, not lately.
No soft back, good sentence, beautiful ankles.
Piercing eye? Graceful neck? Delicate wrist?
There are others who can, who will, who do.
Shoe store salesman says beautiful ankles.
I don’t believe him.
The lie I want is yours, if you said such things.
You bring flowers.
Grocery store roses like infant corpses, tight under plastic.
Sometimes the color I like.
Sometimes they speak. I’m sorry or I can’t say what you want to hear.
They aren’t wild blooms, passionately in flower, their heads bobbing Yes! in the breeze as you plucked them from the earth, moist and hot.
No moneyed lily or hothouse orchid, coddled and most expensive.
No hard-to-find cosmos. No long-term hydrangea.
No swooning love letter, no mix tape.
Beautiful ankles, I hear it now.
I rack my brain for specifics, hold the shreds close, where my heart will hear them.
I hold those fresh kill stems to my chest, care for them like an undertaker, wishing they were your lies.
I cross my ankles, and remember
the shoe store is not far from here.