Down the pebbled road is a quarry

and, behind it, a lessening wood

that gets smaller the way toy trucks

and books get smaller as we grow.

I brought almonds to the woods


to give us energy and maybe hope

that if we saw a brown bear by the river

we could feed him our kernels,

look into his eyes and name him.

You said you would name him “Love”,


that watching him try to pull

salmon from a stream

was how you felt before we met

in the damp think of the bar,

your lipstick only wax,


the color of a robin I named

in a hurry, the way a stillborn

baby is baptised before it flies,

we hope, blessed

to a kingdom of honey


and breasts. You said, “there are real bears

in Virginia,” that we would not find one

here. Then, you ate a handful of almonds

and wouldn’t say anything more

about Virginia or what you named


the bears down there. And the next day

it was raining and the next day

they called for a flood. You said

you would call it “Beauty”, the way

the water might send us to our roof,


maybe in the middle of the night.

The way I’d shiver in my skin, your

satin slip roughed by rain. I asked

if you would be able to catch fish


from the waters that passed and you looked

into my eyes as the rain came like cracks

of almonds in a fire and said, “Yes,”

you would surely try. But the hole trapped

the water and the flood never rose.


First published in Valve, Issue 3, October 2013