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The Two Sunflowers

High summer 1933 Silesia

the past like winter

the future for hope

Their mother dresses her first two

takes them outside

into the midday heat stands the one

on his still unsteady legs

gives the other a switch of grass

the past like winter like night

the future made with hope

Their father takes his camera and sits

Look this way you two

One sunflower turns his head

light streaming through the brim

of his hat mouth set

brow scrunched

a shoulder strap slipping

down his bare shoulder

The other arms lifted for balance

face coming into tears

under its feathered frame

the past like winter night like loss

the future to hope for and fear

On the brink

of almost anything the light

filters through petalled hats

brother sunflowers

the past is winter is night is loss

the future is what is coming

in the field on this land

only a moment now

Hold still

Solstice, Eclipse

Concealed in the walnut shell, frilled nut meat.

The sun drapes the moon in orange.

You hand me a square of folded paper,

creased once, twice, three times.

I clasp my hands as though

to pray.

Anniversary Sestina

Thirteen years ago today…

I don’t remember this

rain or the thrum of the heart

of the heater or my cold hands

in red fingerless gloves pressing

out words to understand marriage,

what marriage

tells us about ourselves. Today,

I remember you smoking, pressed

against the government building wall, this

sense about your hand-

to-mouth movement of fear, of heart-

break, always a possibility, or heart

attack, what could await us if our marriage

proves long, if we walk life’s road, hands

clasped, until we were old. Today,

I wonder, is this it? Is this

thirteen-year span, pressed

by desire, by difference and difficulty, pressed

by two children for whom our hearts

applaud, would you call this

a long marriage?

Even an apparently simple question is today

complicated, a tangle in my hands.

Always, though, the physical, your hands

reaching toward my body, pressing

me against you. Not yet today,

but unsure as my heart

is of many things—what our particular marriage

means, who says it’s good or bad, this

day by day together life, this

me, that you, how marriage


us into something that some days my heart

does not want—I feel your hands.  Today

this marriage presses

our hands to our hearts

to promise again today.

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