I am cleaning out a woman’s underwear drawer,
a woman who burned herself to death in the woods last week,
a woman I barely knew, whom I met maybe twice,
a woman my brother almost married twenty years ago,
but then said no to, like closing a door,
saying that in his honest heart, in that place he built
for himself like Lincoln’s lonely log cabin,
that he loved her, but was not in love with her,
my brother for whom I would do anything,
who has told her broken family he would clean out her place
because they could not,
my brother who has been here for two days now,
whom I have imagined rummaging through her disembodied belongings,
who has gone back and forth to the dumpster each day like Silas Marner,
my brother who has told me what to do to get started this morning,
this bureau, these drawers, my brother who is in the shower now,
who will come out in a while, red-faced, quiet, who will see the bureau,
the rubbish bags, the empty drawers stacked up like little cribs,
and who, without a word, will gently lift up his side of the bureau,
tilt it toward me as I carry my end down the stairs,
lug it out the door, into the morning light.
Obscure, Like Jude
Dude, she used to call me, Dude,
as if I were back at the ranch, had drifted into desuetude,
as if this were my first and only rodeo. Dude, she called me, Dude.
And when I’d try to crank it up a notch, say something crude,
she’d spout like a Burger King counter clerk for whom food-
seeking customers were her last concern, all attitude,
as if life were just more Juicy Fruit, more Bubbalicious to be chewed,
each walk-in another drop pin along her Garmined way. Rude,
she’d say, waving her jeweled finger like a metronome, Rude,
and Call security, I’ve got a complicated order. Tood-
aloo, she’d say, and then sashay, get manied, pedied, tattooed.
How I loved her kit and caboodle, her every layered mood.
Sometimes she’d come completely unglued, stand nude
outside her door in the window of moonlight, blued, imbued,
never more frightened, more beautiful, in her amplitude.
Back then we were hustlers, rustlers, cowboys of love, pursued
by the posses of night. We were always in the mood, coo-coo-ca-chooed.
Each day we robbed the banks of love. Each night our love accrued,
We were part of that wandering herd, that brood,
maniacs, mooncalves, hiding out in a cattle drive that lowed and mooed,
not thinking we would ever die, that this was just an interlude.
We were so busy screwing we did not know that we were screwed.