Girls with Gardenias
I think some of you
would have been musical
like my brother;
rhythm travels the pulsing red highways
and encrypts itself in clustered cells.
You may have felt him play the pipes;
it filled my veins with immense
thrumming, like a midsummer beehive.
I’ve imagined you as tall grey- eyed
young men on a cabin porch
where I sit in a straight backed chair, squirrel
rifle over my knees
and the eyes of Katie Elder,
but in dreams you are
girls with corsages of gardenias
tied with ribbon to wrists
white and curved as handles
of china teacups.
When the night is still,
you have your own rhythm.
I cannot find an end to your voices,
and this is the source of the thrumming now.
If I planted a tree for each
a hundred years from now
they would dwarf my losses;
if I laid out white stones
the mist and the moss
could sleep there like lovers
and keep what they make.
If I gave up longing
perhaps I could hope to find you.
I do try to forget:
every cool touch I cannot lay on your brow,
every peppermint sticky hand
I cannot hold.