We played shooting each other
in the slow gray afternoon yard. I shot you twice
on or near the heart . We stood there, thinking.
I laid you in the back of a stolen car and drove
to a farmhouse in Iowa, a party
ensconced on the porch. People smoked
and chattered. I walked the painted boards,
cigarette smoke and hard laughter.
A nurse helped carry my husband
into the surgery front bedroom
where in a more prairied life
we’d have made love all afternoon
then staggered out to the golden dusk,
a walnut tree in the distance.
Now the chill held gold to hide behind, thinly.
It was to be the last such day and everybody knew it.
I slept in the car all week until you walked
out to the sudden weather
holding your chest, my ugly gun.
While you were unconscious
we traded hearts and got married again
in the folding bed, I wanted to tell you.
Tissues surrounded you,
knitted themselves intently in the cold.
Summer kept me with sugared fruits
in the slow sanding. Not being stupid
I took what was offered: shovel and droplet
threw sun back onto itself in small movable dots.
My job was waiting and I did it in the sun
with sand and mirrors, a glitter around me
while I paced. I waited, I fell in love with waiting
covered in jewels washed in from the sea.
The ground was made of softened glass. I
threw the sun back; I was in love
with the broken space. Yet the sea
never cared for me, took what it wanted.
Shiny shells, dead crops, mother-of-pearl.
I didn’t care, I was happy not to have them.
once emptied the world became seasons
and made sudden room for me.
Melissa Ginsburg attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop where she was recipient
of the Iowa Arts Fellowship. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in
Gulf Coast, Pleiades, and Crowd. She lives in Iowa City and works in a