God of Roman gardens, obscene Priapus,
is that you? now risen in green and purple
thick-stalked rigor, here in the bed prepared for
You find it when you're tearing up your life,
trying to make some sense of the old messes,
moving dressers, peering under beds.
Forgive us. We have dragged them into the night
in taffeta dresses, in stiff collars and ties,
with the wind damp, the sleet raking their cheeks,
A ritual for the year about to turn:
We drive off, ceremonious, under a dark
star-pricked and clear. A tinsel-curl of moon
A leaden matins. Up the block,
the scattered crows voice disapproval.
A tow-truck groans: someone has fallen victim
The racks at Goodwill, they're packed with wedding dresses.
Salvation Army, stacked with those sad white dresses.
Old dreams dropped at the curb. Post-breakup messes.
Left everything. Left Laos in '78.
Followed a husband following Vang Pao.
Moves briskly; brings a customer his pho;
Sometimes, working at the world's surface,
I must roil waves, must wrangle currents
to force the flood-waters' flint-gray spate
I could decide to credit the old stories—
Greek myths, saints' legends—that he's a god in mufti.
That the warm fragrance of alcohol on his breath
Bug-eyed again. I'm awake in the grip of my clenching and grinding
teeth. And once wakened, my jaws lock down on the notion of death.
Yes, they were always connected, teeth and mortality, even