Pia Taavila-Borsheim



Meant for the gnawing,
          the meat and the marrow bone.
Live for the feasting.
Little frog, singing
           in the rain, joy attends you
under the stone step.
Elgar’s Nimrod soars.
          I’m a clarinetist, twelve,
first chair, lone weeper.
Sprinkler heads skitter
          above the newly-laid sod.
We watch from windows.
Empty milk bottles
          line the hallway shelf, their glass
gently green, clinking.
Tiny, pink, threaded
          cap, heart-shaped perfume bottle—
slight squeak, twisting off.
Creeping past my door,
          a young cat yowls at the moon.
Neighbors’ lights come on.
A garrett, pine trees–
          slant light through dormer windows–
a pine bed, plain desk.

I bend to the task,
          listen for the heart’s desire,
type night-long lyrics.

The birds of morning call.
          Crumpled sheets fill the basket—
nine lines remain.
A driver slices the air.
          The golf ball’s thwock:
its rattle in the cup.
Cars, in streetlight, nudge
          dark curbs: wet asphalt, strewn leaves.
Couples hurry by.

Lamps in high windows
          cast shadows through mottled trees.
I walk the dark stretch

of arching branches,
          alone in my need to name
the night air, alone.
A baby cries in
          someone’s neighboring house.
We sleepy mothers wake.
In the door, his keys
          clank and jangle. The morning
tryst trails from his shirt.
In my lover’s eyes,
          the world’s barbarism lurks:
slits for irises.

Time to make a move.
          This snake slithers in tall grass,
shedding skin, revealed.
Beaks fly out my mouth.
          Turquoise and teal, the feathers
furl. In flight, they caw.
He stood before me,
          humbled, penitent. I raised
his chin to kiss him.
Like a girl who lifts
          her skirts and crosses the creek,
we try again, love.
His words hung like fruit
          dangling from persimmon trees,
bruised and out of reach.
The heart knocks about
          in its empty casing, wants
only to beat on.
O, full moon, I stare
          into your pale sphere: haunting,
luminous, distant.