We Called It the Frozen Bouquet of Listening
I have wolves for thoughts.
The cornfields in front of the house soaked
through with science & its silence toward
a 90-pound dog on the porch.
Remember when you murdered the rain?
We’re housed by a glow & a black fly out to find us.
My thoughts are wet my hands are wetting
our babies look at us
& we pack weddings into
Lake Michigan. Each century a memory.
My thoughts grab wolves by their collars.
Trying to remember the lake of
this century—the air bubbles
& paddles cutting up what was there.
The very movements we either claim or deny
with this wetness in between.
Our house on the edge of it—
built from & falling into
despite the efforts of cornfields.
I thought we were making decisions?
We threw in the lake wallpaper patterned
with the bootprints of ice fisherman. We threw in a blurry
person. Someone we hope can swim.
& just as we reached the shore
the shore became unbelievable to us.
We called it The Lab Coat. We called it
Turning Back & No Turning Back. We called it
Acting Upon Seagulls. We called it The New Rehab.
We called it Fear of the Driftless Grief.
The dog is well-trained & won’t leave the porch
like a word we spell but cannot mean.
Tire tracks concern memory.
Bridesmaid to this century.
Shorebound we were made entirely
of thoughts of the shore, & now
being here is a form of unclutching.
I was incorrect to pull the wolf’s ears
like a playmate among cornstalks but I cannot
back out of the century. My purse, filled with lake
& barbeque smoke.
Babies crawling over the watercolor
battlefield, the rainy wolves
like amateur chaperons
falling deeply in love
with each other
listening in on.
A glisten of playmate slid out like money
When I thought space was what I could occupy
When I thought these barnacles built this boat
Tundrababy grasslandbaby mesababy
We don’t even know if we like grapefruit
Some crude planetarium we squint out
What demented quest for the sweater vest
is best communicable via bicycle
Some liquid franchise arranged like a massacre
Falling atomic sonogram
We’re trying to find Denver
The breakfast table acts like a parachute
financing the biscuits & chutney
An arrangement that sinks—
To pedal down the dock, a wiry plunge
with a basket of letters
Bystanders ring out the bib in a given verb
Cornsilk wigs point us to Denver & elevation
outside of snow
When I thought the radio was a castaway boat
When I thought this pond could trick a landlocked heart
We only compose space
fields split into bedrooms
its civil coasts like waterproof mascara
how the arctic pacifiers
say civic duties
say what you want
JULIA COHEN‘s most recent book is a collection of lyric essays, I Was Not Born (Noemi Press, 2014). Her poetry and nonfiction appear in journals like DIAGRAM, jubilat, The Destroyer, Colorado Review, and Verse. She’s an assistant professor and teaches in Chicago.