Poems from

One Year after My Move to California, I Jell-O Wrestle My Texan Past in a Dream

You visit me with your pockets filled with swampwater, the sunflowers
husked and unshaved—an anniversary bouquet
of faces which rise, with you and the temperature,

to strangers. I don’t want to know
whose names now fold
into our old mailbox on Ridgewood. I could

only walk the neighborhood at night
when the heat sank to the eighties. I could almost
love the stubbled javelinas for charging us once

as we stayed too late at the alligator preserve. We must’ve
turned to a stand of live oaks in the twilight,
startled the blind herd as we breathed. In the dream

you hold a steel bowl of green Jell-O, ask if I remember
the roadhouse off I59. The one that advertised women in bikinis
who’d slide into a rink to wrestle each other smeared

in gelatin. I told you—as we drove by the bar—which ghosts
Jell-O holds in its shiver: pig skin, ground bones, bovine hide.
I’d slick myself down to a glimmer

here in the space of this dream
where the blades of the date palms serrate and slit the sky
so I might escape. So I’d glow

green in my second skin. I’d slip from the rink’s
loose ropes, from my marrow-scrubbed double in the bikini
who now shrinks to a crouch, from my past and its

ground-up dead, which I’ve simmered and stirred all year
to arrive here: in my dream that seals them as they fade
to translucence, smooth and finally cooled.

 

reprinted from Blackbird

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