blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1



What You Meant Was

It's a surprise to sit outside    this time of November
so comfortably           on the swing with a crash of sun against
your neck       wanting to wear that white dress      only meant
             for indeed     summer            the one you have taken in a man with

what you thought opaque white                      not quite so      or so
he told you         after he'd swept a finger across your cheek
          when you said      Saul     I don't know      if we deserve this
and he said       close your eyes and think about it

What he meant was      don't think       What he meant was       let me kiss you
             Sitting outside with a spot of flowers huddled against the fence
you are glad      it still feels like summer                   your mother has used the word
unseasonable to describe it      though you would have said anomalous

     anything else sounds giddy      and these are solemn       days
with the coming of winter          still coming       only pitched a length from our minds
            You let him kiss you           of course           and you're thinking of course
because this is the man           who put a spin on you           who took
    and took from you         all of it starting with that white dress
that day in the park      after church      he must have    watched the shadows

the light across your body        to tell you        later he knew
exactly what kind of panties you wore    tugging the slight
            white strap      at your hip     all you could think to say was
wait      to which he said          sorry sorry sorry

what you meant was                              no
what he meant was     let me try again in five              four               three
           A tree frog starts a slow crawl across the seat    of the swing      you have
never seen a frog crawl as if a spider    one limb at a time     each wet nub reaching

            carefully you                  reach to touch      the frog             so small
so composed    and unaware    you mean not to hurt it               just
reassure yourself          of living               you too have been that still
a thin line          of sweat on the crest         of your lip 

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