“Look!” You say. The gorgeous
lily has “opened its face.”
Stamens dangle, a pistil bunches
blue at the tip—a rush of pink.
More to my taste are half smiles,
folded clusters, silky pistils
still hidden among crinkled petals
veined with celadon and cream.
It’s reasonable for such lilies
to remind me of the man who sang
in Spanish on Sixth Street. Relaxed,
assured, upright he tilted his head
to hear his own music. Bud-lips half–
parted floated the color of cognac.
It makes sense to mention the little
Spanish I know that was not in his song.
Lily is azucena. Sugar
azucar, leche slang for sperm. Alma—
you must know—soul. What was in his pocket? Surely I hope
a key without which we’re homeless, tumescence, silver, bandana . . .
On Sixth and Ocean students drink
from glasses big as fishbowls, tinted
neon. Other kids gouge their names
in sand, the names of cities too, the span
of a grave, but there’s no gruesome
birth date followed by a hyphen—
mortal thoughts of aging me.
Birth, death, beginning, end:
I would guess 1993-2082
given the life expectancy
of youth clawing with sticks,
toy shovels, perfect fingers
or their feet. Addie Rose, Newark
carved deep at the tide mark.
Rush, rush, say the waves
but Addie has to wait
for the tide’s slow ruin.
Crumbling ruffles go down.
Capital O fills like a moat—
sandcastles, sunken towers,
doorways flooded. Kingdoms,
bits of shell, names, cities all drowned.
A few damp lumps
like hot wax piling up.
Only a ripple runs across
Addie’s toenail painted blue.