When I was a kid
in love with a girl
I took a bus to New York City
and there remember
only two things
she didn’t thrill by stepping
in the room.

It dumped eight inches of rain
into the Holland Tunnel.
And then safe in her
New Jersey home,
in an empty kitchen,
I made a soufflé
with whatever was about —

There was some cheese.
People came and went.
Some flour.
Her parents were divorcing.
Some butter, all abandoned:
the refrigerator
was a time capsule,
a locker of remembered love.

Everyone ignored me,
and that was just.
It was she, only she, anyway.
The soufflé had a crust,
sweet-strange as a metaphor.

I sat at the kitchen table,
the rain dry,
the roads winding unimportantly,
and ate the whole perfect

Father’s Day

My parents used to sit on the balcony
on Menorca in the mid-day heat
eating Spanish olives
and tossing the pits over.
We called it suntan lotion
and not sun block in those days,
and when we ran out, we used olive oil,
coating our English arms with it
until they glistened
like plucked chicken wings.

Each afternoon my father made the same joke:
how years later a whole grove
of olive trees would spring up
below our rented rooms,
against the stucco and the wrought iron,
in the red dirt.

He was wrong, of course.
No trees grew,
nothing stayed:
not the smell of my mother’s oil paints
when she painted in the cove,
not the depressions we left on the sand.

What grew was this olive,
the one I draw from my mouth
long after my parents are gone.
This one, gray-green,
cured, no longer bitter.
This one, purple-black,
pitched, its small flesh wrapping
an undegradable stone,
launched over the railing
among the goldfinches
in the Scots Pine.

Julia at the Vanderbilt Estate

The earth folds in on itself
and even in its dying
there is still a mist
rising from the river
among the red oaks,
the magnolia, and the poplar trees.

Enough to erase the horizon,
enough to say, with a loose stroke
or the smudge of a finger
we can make the scene less firm,
cloud the coming end,
still fill it with possibility:
exotic fruits, a new June,
newlyweds rafting the patient water,
their laughter hung on the leaves
like wind chimes.

Who doesn’t love a landscape?
We are all immortal in it,
despite the stone step where
we gathered for breakfast
near the balustrade.

I said, ‘Julia, the colors!’
She said, ‘I see, I see,’
though of course she couldn’t.

‘I met one of them once,’ she said.
‘Met who?’ we asked.
‘The tall one…I forget his name
— but he’s gone now.’

‘Yes,’ we said,
and the red oaks said yes, yes we know,
despite the mist still
rising from the river.