Saturday, Austin

Two glasses of chianti last night
lead to a headache today.
At the trendy hotel
a half dozen self-consciously hip patrons
eat granola and yogurt by the pool.
Five blocks down Congress
a crotch-to-knee wet spot
on a man’s ill-fitting jeans
trails a faint ammonia aroma.
An indignant street corner prophet
sheds one of his grimy coats
and begins his sermon
to the automobile congregation.
You buy four scones, seven daisies
then drive home.
I choke down three aspirin,
navigate airport security
and fly away.


Between Cancer and the Equator

The hotel’s pink stucco façade –
faded from age and sun and inattention –
guards the narrow street.
Four Americans crawl
from a blue Ford
pushing their way through air
glutinous from just-ended rain.
Crossing the desolate lobby
to a jacaranda-shaded veranda
they sit on dented red chairs
drink tepid Coca Cola through paper straws
eat pineapple pan dulce.

Below them
a languid river creeps past
its thick water the same color as the pastry.

© 2003 Melinda Green Harvey

What you gave me

Slices of your world
given to me –
careful, simple gifts.

     Coffee is on sale this week
     I am a light sleeper
     Today would have been my mother’s birthday

With what might be grace
I accept, trusting that each offering
is profound in undiscovered ways,
then smooth out the wrinkled wrapping
wondering what to offer in return.


A Tom Robbins Novel Kind of Obsession

She wished the dream could be a fact:
that the spoon held temptingly to her lips
would not disappear the moment she woke.
She wanted the cool raspberry sweetness on her tongue
and the craziness of mating dissimilar entities.

Her mismatched place settings of old silver were odd
but creating a unified whole out of bizarre passions
seemed only right for a woman who was fond of fucking around –
with seriousness, sanctity, syntax.

After all, why should she wait and let Tom Robbins have all the fun?
Why not, upon waking, take the long-handled spoon
and pair it with the V-monogrammed fork?
And then –
eat her simple solitary meal,
savoring the taste,
imagining that the silver
had infused the food with flavor until it was too intense to bear.

She’d eat dessert first, with the spoon.
Then, slowly finish the meal,
smiling at the monogram on the fork,
recalling unsanctioned passions.

Laurie Wagner Buyer/Melinda Green Harvey

force of habit

my body weight too close to the edge
pops sheets off the mattress
every night
twined in dreams of struggle
i wake tangled in
percale knots

memories shove me
to the far side of the bed
your cold-rolled steel voice
my bruises shaped like gripping fingers
extra makeup, unlikely explanations

     Parents’ day, private school
     earnest conversations with headmaster.
     Smiling couple, half a foursome
     for Saturday tee time.
     Nicely dressed family, usual pew,
     early Easter service:
          scars hidden by sunlight.

i’d rather fight loose sheets
than you
i’d rather feel them
under me
than you beside me

a touch from you
no matter your intent
carries with it a force
i can’t afford to forget


An event, inexplicable

Freeze that moment:
look back at what has led you
to this day of destiny, of purpose.

Cast in today’s glow of new beginnings
what could have been random
can be understood differently –
as part of a larger plan
unfurling itself upon two people
before they even knew.

At that moment
fireworks didn’t explode –
rather a steady, gradual knowledge
began to take hold
and this event, inexplicable
by what you knew,
was understood by what you felt.

Each event, every step
led to this fulcrum,
when the balance swung
from friendship to love,
when scales tipped
in favor of sharing lives

This moment couldn’t have happened
any other way.



1964 altered

Pink pearlescent cateye glasses
brought my second grade world into focus.
My waist-long braids had been recently cropped
to a more manageable chin length, but a cowlick
still influenced rebellious bangs.
Baby teeth gave way to huge replacements,
their odd angles foreshadowing future orthodontia.
Thanks to McCalls patterns and mom
my Brownie uniform was my only store-bought dress.

That summer I gathered
backyard caterpillars,
stuffing them into pickle-scented jars.
Fueled by daily rations of leaves,
larvae spun cocoons.
Before long, silken walls thinned,
revealing chrysalises folded inside –
a yellow and black swallowtail;
an orange-purple harvester; or a Southern
pearly eye, dusty white.
After emergence, the butterflies would
spread creased, damp-looking wings,
then flap them slowly, preparing for flight.
I would unscrew a nail-holed jar lid
setting beautiful, fragile creatures free.

Also that summer, using a net fashioned
from a coathanger and a cone of white tulle,
I caught butterflies, examined their colors
with great longing,
and set them free again.


Meteor Shower

The clouds came that night,
the night the meteors streaked across the sky,
their tails pointing, always pointing,
to Perseus.

But I felt their presence,
felt you watching them
from a place you and I once shared,
a place where we’d made love,
and where we’d cried.

Without the clouds
I could have shared your view.

And so it was that I thought of you,
thought of our times together,
hoped for another chance to love you.
And went to sleep
only to startle awake when my fist
hit the headboard,
driving away any more sleep that night.

I sat outside, staring past the clouds,
pretending I could see Perseus,
Cassiopeia, Andromeda,

And you.


Fucking in French

Beside each other on the meager mattress
you tell me about Christmas Eve, alone
in Luxembourg,
when you heard the couple in the next room
make love all night long.

Eventually we emulate them
though it’s only October.