There is no theory here

Except the theory of the oar

Who has a notion of teasing the current

There is no science here

Except the science of the boat

Who is motionless and yet is moving

There is an equation

Discarded here

In fragments on the surface of the water

That explains the ratio of sunlight to sunburn

At the nape of the neck

Sometimes the occasion for celebration

Is the absence of mathematics.


A low stone wall frames the patio.

In Spring,

We fill a dozen pots with flowers

To set upon the wall.

Inpatiens, Dahlias, Begonias surrounding the summer.

Once filled,

The heavy clay pots refuse to turn –

Refuse to give the northern petals face time with the sun.

This year,

We bought three light pots.

They sit by the side of their sturdier neighbors.

The bees –

Though I am sure they have noticed –

I have overheard the discussion –

Still visit.

The dahlias –

Not defiant –

Perhaps indifferent –

Still bloom.

But no one –

Not even this gaudy butterfly who flirts with everyone –

Not even she –

Would mistake for terra-cotta,

These common plastic pots,

Painted orange.


No one on this beach

Would mistake for that sunlit girl,

That decades-ago girl –

No one would mistake for that girl –

Long-limbed like Diana,

This loose-skinned woman,

This thick-waisted woman,

Straw hair,

Painted gold.


But enough about poetry.

I’d rather read the letter

sufficiently enticing

to elicit  the invitation

to Italy.

Perhaps you enclosed a recent photo.

Your literary skills – or so the story goes –

inspired a true proposal

of holy matrimony

until the already-wife sent you packing.

This could have been literal.

“Please pack your punctuation,”

them being the literary set.

But I’d prefer drama,

A confrontation of recriminations.

Well-worded threats.

A year before, my boyfriend’s mom escorted me out

via sharpened scissors.

How infinitely more romantic

if the poet’s spouse

swung the shears.

Did you love him for his mind?

Did he fuck you for your body?

But, hell, you ended up with a book

and a reputation.

But enough about poetry.