To My Own H.D.

Others have loved what we have loved and we will teach them how.
                                                —Coleridge to Wordsworth

Looking from the back, I hope she's a woman: buzz cut, narrow hips, hands pocketed in stiff dark jeans.  I'm at the feed store.   She's loading my pickup.  Flash of tattoo on her bicep.  No one has seen a bag of oats swung on her shoulder like that.

When you left him the first time, she's what I thought you needed.  The type who comes to your front porch with soup when you don't answer the phone.  If you had a dog, she'd walk it for you.  As it is, you took him back.  I never saw you more yourself than at the end of your pregnancy.  Swollen ankles, oily and ragged hair, cheeks finally filling out.

This isn't a poem about the feed store woman.  Sorry I wrote her into it.  Your man will never change.  You could get a dog and buy some bulk food.  When H. was born, there were no arms strong enough to lift your bed with both of you in it.

How have we loved?  Queer girl dropping everything for the straight girl who'll never curl her body inside my jam jars and live within a few little words, hold this angry and muscular time out at arm's length.

No one has seen you drop your chin to your shoulder like a foal.  How have we loved?  Frightened of others, and watching from their eyes.  You belong in a black-and-white movie.  Your lips could have a love scene with each other.  That small, small lisp.  Eyes as big as they want to be.  

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