As Labile as the Trees

All night as the trees roar I dream
of lost causes: the terrier
who died when I was twelve;
the woman who married to snub me;
the forest shattered for houses
to shelter herds of bankrupts;

the student who drowned while drunk;
the pseudo-academic career
that exploded when I insulted
Stamford’s most famous professor.
And you, of course, in boiled wool
and a skirt shaped like a bell jar.

Yesterday as I detoured
around the sewage project,
muddying my sturdy cleated shoes,
I spotted you with that lover
whose name I refuse to remember,
his sultry accent surely at work

as together in your Volvo
you prowled downtown for dinner
at the mock-Breton bistro
you admire for its gummy cheese.
That lover, dizzy with wine,
once described to me your body—

the mole on one buttock, the scar
inside a thigh, the dolor
of your breasts. Did he mean
to shame you the way my first attempt
to live in the suburbs shamed me?
You ought to be glad he confessed

that you’re as labile as the trees
roaring with midnight to stifle
round cries of owls that otherwise
would awaken me to realize
how that boiled wool armors you
against the marauding psyche.

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