The Varieties of Love
Jan and her boyfriend rented movies,
stayed up all night,
and made love after each film.
This, to Jan, was sublime: sex with the afterimage
of a blue car driving
past orange shop windows,
mannequins illuminated by headlights
through the slow back-and-forth of wipers.
hours later, the black-and-white grain
of concrete panned by searchlights
as a man struggles over the Berlin Wall.
Near morning, a handful of skaters crisscross a lake
on the outskirts of a mining town, no soundtrack
the thresh of blades on ice.
are four kinds of lovers: those who love
the roses—Ehigala, Mojave, Satchmo, Lemon Pillar,
Mac—those who love their parts—auricle,
corymb, panicle, rhachis, umbel—those who love
the mulch—pine bark, cedar chip, cocoa hull, leaf mold,
potash—and those who love the cities they
Lijiang, Tashkent, Nootka, Algeciras, Baton Rouge.
Patrick died in his bed in his pajamas,
his son brushing strands of
from his forehead, his wife on his right
holding his hand, his mistress on his left
other, his eyes staring
at the ceiling, a Prime Minister
enjoying the brief unity
his Parliament grants him,
now that the war has begun.
art studio was near the ocean, across from the zoo:
at night Alison could hear the lions and the surf.
got in through a back gate after closing
and watched the flamingoes sleep, black beaks
curved into their breasts,
and realized she couldn’t love Beth anymore.
It was because of the edge, the scent, the watershed:
the damp, the effulgent—
everything that was part of her now.
The gold of the silk-screened snow
on the card still on Tina’s dresser,
the gold of the sun
that rose as she ground her coffee, the gold
that burst from the barrel as she pushed
trigger with both thumbs, the gold threads
of the blanket they found her curled on,
knees tucked up so she would
within the green, symmetrical borders.
Enrique was in New York,
he went to see the painting of the almond tree.
If he had to choose between the painting’s
and the death of his own family, of course
the choice would be clear. But what if he had to
between the painting and the life of the man
who read his meter through a rusted grate,
or the lives
of some chophouse diners
in a distant city? Could he still be sure?
The charged blue of the sky—how
it picked up
the branches’ undertones—that was irreplaceable.
What surprised Nathaniel was not that there was no God,
-from Dragging the Lake
nor that he had stopped believing in one,
but that his belief had ceased without his noticing.
shades of green there were
in the wilderness, how many evenings in each throat,
how naked the salt lick
stood in the city square.