It is not happiness. Not the man standing
in line waiting to show me his poppies
and doves. Not a vase or an empty cage
he leaves when the magic act is over.
It is sleeping for a long time, the rest
of the world standing in a broken line.
Or waking without new flowers flaming
into this world. It is a world without song
I flew right into. In the glass I saw
one soul, not two colliding into one.
Nothing shattered. What is fragile came after,
time to kill. We love badly. Do you see
how we lie awake, always hungry in bed?
The priests continue to hold out their fast
offerings to the weak. Amen. Teach me
how to sing in a grove of olive trees,
to fall as a sparrow. It is all I want.
I sing to a breeze that runs through the rafters.
A woman skins a snake. She turns
but not enough for me to see her face.
In the sink, the peelings have begun to pile up
in a mound the color of dirt.
She hears the oil hissing on its own
and thinks of throwing something in—
ginger, garlic, chopped rings of green onion—
but doesn't, lets the oil brown
until the smoke rises
and fills the dark corners of the kitchen.