Stella Day Nickerson
Published on: 12/26/2012
The Beat that Drives Us All
We dance, bright shapeless shaking.
I think our children will turn to the old style.
They'll learn steps, take partners, dance like our grandfathers—
but we just bounce and bend our arms above our heads.
I never much liked dancing,
but I would take this moment and sew it to my side.
The movement is nothing and the music nothing more
than a chance to see each other—
I see your really-truly showing through your skin
like the blood that turns you colors.
If we danced out of the door now,
down the mountain, up the street,
I would call out to the vendors that call out from their stalls,
boys playing soccer, men smoking at the corner,
mothers buying spices red and yellow brown and green,
lovers barely touching—
"If I saw your really-truly I would love you, love you all."
Published on: 12/19/2012
Moving On and On
One spring midnight,
her brain, hindbrain and body
decided all at once
that they had had enough,
and she fell out of love like turning a corner,
woke to a world less
one fallen god in blue jeans,
up one man who laughs too much.
She ran into him on the street
where trees pushed out leaves
like necessary words
and the newborn bugs bit her ankles.
She missed the way it used to hurt,
but only just—
She had fifty years or more
to fill the world with former fallen gods.
Published on: 12/18/2012
If there were nothing but forest,
and poison ivy hung like rope
over the fallen trees,
I would shape the yellow wood with my hands—
like a man would, maybe,
if that is what you think of men.
I would build you a cabin
where you could sleep and never hear
the owls calling like young girls.
I would cover up your head, dear.
I would cover up your head.
If there were nothing but city,
a whole round world of streets,
I would work all day in shoes that hurt my feet.
I would buy you an apartment
with windows that open and close.
Windows, and a door that locks,
a furnace firing hot against
the city-stained and all-concealing fog.
I would cover up your head, love.
I would cover up your head.
Published on: 12/17/2012
Some part always hurts.
There will always be another bruise,
another overused hand,
a long red scratch that waits to be a scar,
an ache within the muscle or a strain.
I suppose it's what we get for being so complex,
each one of us a city, country, continent
of blood and bone,
the roads and rivers of a body.
It's a wonder you don't fall down dead this second,
what with the million calculations,
each cell tight with chemical tension,
all of that sugar burning like coal.
And consider all that skin,
every inch of it turned out to the air,
ready for the world and every rock in it.
It really is no wonder;
think of the nerves, miles of them
waiting to be burned or thrilled,
to sing a measure of the long song.
Published on: 12/14/2012
Rachel has been married for a minute.
I sit in the kitchen window with my feet out on the roof,
and the summer sun is like a flock of yellow birds.
It's raining in Portland
and the hem of Rachel's dress is wet.
Rachel's room is empty except
for closed boxes, brown spiders, webs.
I've never lived alone before.
My feet are bare. The roof is warm as skin.
In Portland the sky is a gray pearl,
hollowed out, and Portland held inside.
If I had a husband he'd sit with me on the sill.
He'd say something about
the sky, my eyes, or buying milk.
If I had a husband, I'd be used to him by now.
We could brush knuckles without even
heart-beating slow-breathing or pause.
Maybe he'd have blue eyes, maybe not.
Funny things, these husbands.
Apparently you "get" one, like catching a fish
that turns into a genie,
and if you ever wish to be kissed again you get it,
more or less.
I turn up my face to the well of all wishes.
The sky is like a plain of blue grass.
The mountains are like mountains on that plain.
I sit in the kitchen window with my feet out on the roof.
Rachel has been married for an hour.