What I Stole

I stole endlessly
as if the center of the universe
were all mine.

I stole brazenly,
stripped off my clothes to steal gazes,
entire pages from the encyclopedia,
attention and time from teachers,
glances from mirrors.

I stole others’ ideas,
my father’s succulence,
Snickers bars from the five-and-dime,
a seat in the Sweet Shoppe,
pencils from other students—
one stamped “Thou shalt not steal”—
my best friend’s lover (I did give him back).

I stole change from vending machines,
books from libraries,
heat from the homeless,
affections of careless but devoted men,
lines from Garbo, Dietrich,
dreams from Jung,
my mother’s dreams of a faultless daughter,
my daughter’s dreams of a faultless mother,

sunfish mired in the sandy bottom of Beatrice Lake,
seedlings from roadside plants,
lilacs from strangers’ bushes.

I stole stars from winter skies,
the moon’s light to read by.
Even my life, so full of sweet apricots, scent of jasmine,
babies’ laughter, must have belonged to someone else.


So Long Waiting

He hasn’t seen me since I was a senior in high school. He’d point to his boyhood home two miles below the earth’s surface on the floor of the open pit mine, color of dried blood laced by slender pockets of collected rain, machinery crawling like worms. He wouldn’t recognize his daughter as grandmother. One day I will point to the speck on the map, general vicinity of my childhood home. A well-fed gull pecks at larvae hiding between its breast feathers. Backlit by the eerie glow of nocolor—seamless sky tucked between mountain ridges. Pangas, rowing shells, kayaks slither down the creek. They broke her water and the baby started its inevitable paddle downstream. He must be thinking, she was only seventeen. It was his stomach or liver long before Vietnam, before iron ore depleted itself. Egg of my egg, without chin, fingers too long for his hands. He’ll learn about connections, first the easy way. Later it will be hard. Like the iron from ore, like a heart so long waiting.