Spring Comes to Winthrop, Mass.

The ocean partakes of science fiction.
It is the membrane of a disgusting creature,
Pulsing, clay-colored, webbed over with fine lines
Of white foam like arteries, an ominous tracery
Like that which is found on the pates of those beings,
Seven-foot renegades, the worst of a bad race
In tacky gold dressing-gowns,
Obsessed and laconic with no sense of humor
And noses that go in instead of out,
Who detain you in force-fields and murder your assistant.
The ocean makes do with dispatching a stingray.
It lies on the shoulder, pallid, unspeakable.
Dead tire, failed escapee, I hurry
From your improbable carcass,
So responsibly parked beside a Honda.

Now where’s my assistant?
She said she would be here.
What’s more, she’s the only one
Who knows how to fly this thing.
Come back to me, Claribelle, Clementine, Constance,
I wait for you here on this stunted beige sea-wall.
I’m sorry I ever made fun of your miniskirts
Or those awful thingies you wear on your earlobes,
Or called you Raccoon Eyes first thing in the morning
As you made up your face in our tiny space bathroom.
You were right, Gabriella, high heels are so helpful
On uneven landscapes, lingerie versatile
Enough for all climates, I apologize for doubting you.
It’s true I got you into scrapes
And kept you, so you say, from leading a normal life,
A life such as girls crave, is your contention,
With husband and furniture—
I don’t know why you’d want that stuff.
Sure, I’m no bargain, or that’s what you tell me;
You say that my feet stink, I doze off
In mid-flight, can’t navigate, I’m
Irresponsible, these things are all true
Perhaps, Alexandra, perhaps. You claim
I shouldn’t have stood between you
And the man with the funny hat.
It wasn’t the hat, dearest Daphne, I assure you
That had me so worried, but the thought of you heated
In the alembic of marriage, boiled down to nothing
Or reduced (you’d say clarified) to a single element
(One house, one man, one planet, one car)
When once you had the galaxies at your feet;
Your sweet plump limbs, sonce so variously clothed
In polka dots and petticoats, matrimonially rendered
Into a lean hausfrau’s, my God, Denise—
Can’t you see what I saved you from?
Well. What does it matter?
You left me. I was wrong. I don’t know what I did.
I thought I was considerate,
Always asking before landfall:
Does this one look good, Natalie?
Would you like to pick another?
Not that green ball again, you always want to go there!
And then, when I pressed you, when I coaxed you
Off your world to another more exciting
Of large reptilian monarchs or half-humanoid
Arachnids spinning webs of pure barium,
When they seized us or we stumbled
Into private wars, Ramona, you know I
Never haggled with your captors:
Admit I never chose the planet over you.
So have some compassion now, Mary Anne, Marjorie,
My dear one, return to me.
Don’t leave me alone. Don’t abandon me here
In this sad little town on this gray little pier.
Without you, it seems that we’re all lost, the lot of us.
Wandering, footsore, bereft of your presence.
Procyon lotor, don’t withhold your countenance,
Don’t deny us your grace. For the growing
Has started, tulips bloat black in the gardens
Of husbands, the trees lose their young leaves
In gobs like abortions, and come night,
Without you, we will be helpless
As, monstrous, implacable, as orange as candy,
The moon falls upon us.

1997