1.

I want to swallow
the ocean, kneel
down on the shore,
sink my chin in the
sand, and suck every
wave into my mouth.
Maybe this is that
plan of God’s you all
keep talking about.

2.

The clarity of my
retrospection
frightens me. Or
maybe it’s the foggy
glare of present
vision that screws
me over. Case in
point: his name
means gray. A year
ago, I told myself,
No more gray men.
I forgot, or chose
not to remember.
Either way, once
again, I was screwed.
Once again, I was
not the destination,
but the map he
used to find his
end. Lucky me.
But I suppose
that’s what maps
are for, aren’t they?

3.

Hey girl, why don’t
you write anything
normal anymore?
Because writing
something normal
requires a known
premise, a question
to be answered, or
at least posed. Well,
I don’t have any more
questions. I asked so
many, they went full
circle, and put me
back at zero. I stared
into the sun so long
it blotted out all but
my peripheral vision.

4.

The waves roll in.
The clouds: ash
and pewter, silver
and stone. I am not
normal because I
don’t see in black
and white, or even
the technicolor
rainbow that’s
expected of me as
l’artiste. I don’t
know what I’m
doing. Last night,
a man who owned
a vineyard called me
sweetheart and asked
me to stay with him.
I was going to. I thought,
He’s as good as any.
But I woke up before
I could tell him yes,
the harsh spring sun
already beating
through my window.

5.

I’m late for something.
I’m late for everything.

6.

I have become the
kind of woman who
is desperate enough
to answer an ad for
a summer job on a
remote island in
Alaska, where I would
spend three months
in near isolation at a
fish camp, mostly
washing dishes. Of the
thousand things this
makes me think, one of
them is, This is how 
Lifetime movies begin.
It is the only thing
among the thousand
that gives me real pause.
(Don’t worry, mother,
grandma, I didn’t get the
job. But I did spend a
week debating with
myself about the merits
of showering, so that
should tell you:
something’s wrong.)

7.

Though I dream of
pregnancy, of men
on the periphery, of
planning weddings
(groom always absent),
I never dream of
getting married.

8.

My poems are too
long. I try to cram
entire stories in
their stanzas.
Maybe this is what
men mean when
they tell me I’m
too much for them.

9.

I drank too much
ocean and got sick.
This doesn’t surprise
me, nor does the way
I see my life like Rose
did in Titanic: a vast
expanse stretching
out before me, never
changing, only I don’t
have a Jack to offer me
a hand, a raft, a way out.
(Don’t worry, mother,
grandma, I won’t throw
myself off a ship. I
wouldn’t know where
to find one, and anyway,
I get seasick. Is that an
inherited trait? It wasn’t
nurtured out of me,
and that’s just fine.)

10.

I read about tropical
butterflies in captivity
in frozen Michigan, how
some spend their lives
flapping against the
dome of their artificial
habitat, trying to beat
their way to the blue
sky beyond. The lesson
I am to take from this:
Be content with where
you are, human. A step
out of bounds might
kill you. I grow indignant.
Those butterflies are
better off. Don’t you
understand they’ll die
out there? Maybe so,
but don’t you understand
where they’re coming
from? A life in a cage
is no life at all. Look at
that great big world:
it’s cold and mean, but
God, how we love it.
How we want to fly
off into it, no matter
what the cost. How we
want to take the whole
of it into our mouths.
How we want at least
the chance to choose
the way in which
we will drown.