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
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.
she got in through a back gate after closing
and watched the flamingoes sleep, black beaks
and realized she couldn’t love Beth anymore.
It was because of the edge, the scent, the watershed:
the carved, 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
the trigger with both thumbs, the gold threads
of the blanket they found her curled on,
tucked up so she would fit
within the green, symmetrical borders.
Whenever Enrique was in New York,
he went to see the
painting of the almond tree.
If he had to choose between the painting’s destruction
and the death
of his own family, of course
the choice would be clear. But what if he had to choose
between the painting and the
life of the man
who read his meter through a rusted grate,
or the lives of some chophouse diners
a distant city? Could he still be sure?
The charged blue of the sky—how it picked up
undertones—that was irreplaceable.
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.
How many shades of green there were
in the wilderness, how many
evenings in each throat,
how naked the salt lick stood in the city square.