Because I want to smoke I go outside,
my back to the bricks. I feel best like this,
as everything to see is in front of my eyes.
This alley is dark and soft. Steam
makes spent waterghosts in the pipes.
Doll-sized oil ponds turn blue.
Matted cats hunker in spoiled cream.
Our dishwashers have stepped away too
and will quickly return from the nearby tunnel
with a temporary brightness, shiny like its pale tiles.
On the walk back to work they will say small
earnest prayers to their mothers, and look more joyful
to the days ahead.
I have collected troubling dreams these last weeks,
baby things hatching from eggs with hot teeth.
I wade through their stinging, cast off pith.
I think of my husband, his music students hungry for love.
Behind me, in the restaurant, we are serving blood-colored
pozole, blackened chilis and meat in white bunting husks.
At painted tables there are boats, bottles of heat.
The diners inspect these deep gels and place
drops of them on their fork tines and plates.
They flush and bring in new air across their tongues.
Tempers fly in private heads. Around us highways hiss,
ancient winds warning of cliffs. They bring
bones and nutrients, guns from little towns.
By clammy windows I crush my bright ash.
Rough curtains hiding wedding rings and sinks.