c a t h e r i n e h a m m o n d ~ t e m p e , a r i z o n a
ONE CORE AND ANOTHER
The girl knows she's a fool to follow
dry leaves as they -- dark
and amputated hands -- lure her
through the cut in the land. Walking
between high rock walls, air cooler,
she reaches the fruit tree, heavy
with mountain snow. Apples hang
plump and yellow. A robin pecks
at their flesh. In the wind, she hears rhythms
of a man and a woman -- thighs rubbing,
the scrape of tongue on tongue, nail on skin.
The robin has chosen to stay the winter
for fruit that will shrivel and sweeten. He
does not look toward her as he digs out
one core -- and another. The girl trembles.
Her skin can scarcely hold her.
This poem was nominated for a Pushcart Prize
THE OCEAN, A DRESS
Even now, the woman must wear the ocean,
a dress crumpled in the back of her closet
(put it on, the voice whispers). Having learned
lessons of salt, her eyes stare into distance.
Whatever she means to say, she says nothing.
Oh, she can talk about the sharp ping of milk
hitting a steel bucket, warm froth filling
her mouth. She watches for disguises --
lightning pretending to spread itself on water's
surface -- while penetrating through to the heart.
Wind's caressing the undersides of leaves (don't
dare speak). Braiding and unbraiding her hair,
the woman considers singing -- silence is always
the presence of some other thing. The man never
questions her absence -- foam at her collar,
starfish caught in a sleeve. Do you think
I do this on purpose? she refuses to say.
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