The Longing for Coffee

—the bitter
thick taste of it against the mouth
roof, the knowing
back of the tongue.

The black steam
rising silently, damp
cup warming the fingers, cheek,
bright, the bright—
eyes opening after weeks of rain.

The lashes stick with waking salt.
Veins and passages,
blood and sound clear.
Light pulls me inside, and the taste
is the crumbling edge from the acrid binding
of a book left hidden on a high shelf.

And after such longing, there remains holding onto
the departing warmth, then only the cold and
remembered grounds.


Our Manatee Was a Younger Daughter

the plain one, left alone
among the tanks of bright-fringed polygala,
the proud anemone, phallic orange.
She was the silent one, even her waters
quiet around her. Turning slow
behind the glass, she was white-skinned
in the darkness, a moving cloud
like some whole imagined earth,
that blue marbled globe whose beauty
we never saw until we left her.

Turning soft, nuzzling,
paddling against the deeper dark,
she was alone in a corner tank
too small for any companion,
though even the blank-faced shark and rude-
lipped bass had company behind their glass.

When I first saw her,
she seemed to be looking back,
watching, floating in the midst of lettuce leaves.
But toward the end, after nights and years,
she turned away, sinking without motion.
and we hurried by, heading for the door,
all the echoing hordes of us.

Now when I pass that corner, that tank
is busy with small bright fish, rock caves,
and empty of her beauty.

I miss her heavy grace.