after Philip Levine
In twilight, on a road, we stop,
hearts beating like mad, the rabbit
in her frightened hesitation, ears cocked,
behind a wood slat fence.
She hears something I am deaf to.
I notice the dusk, the telephone
wire, its buzz, the way the sun
burns hotter when it steps past the far line.
She hears everything I long for—
birds rustling leaves, singing. Maybe
secret words from the first star
in the almost dark sky.
The part of me that can see one star at a time
goes with her when she flees. The rest—
my fear, the night, my stubborn silent
envy—stays here, with me.
His face twitches as the nurse tries to find a vein.
Three strikes you’re out, he says under meds, under pain,
under his breath. Blood tests ordered, IV ports
into skin, into the thin tube of a dried out vein.
How long did you shoot drugs? she asks, pulling on
gloves now, avoiding his blue eyes. The rubber hose
bulges his upper arm as she probes. He twitches
twice this time. I don’t think we need to talk about that
right now, he says, polite as hell, twelve steps embedded
in his worn out soul, needle marks up and down
his suntanned arms. She finally finds a spot on top
of his right hand and the red milk flows. Three glass vials fill up slow
with secrets of his life, all those sweet street drugs,
all that rust, all that crash and stop, all those microscopic drops
of wasted desire.
Liza Porter received the 2009 Mary Ann Campau Memorial Poetry Fellowship from the University of Arizona Poetry Center. Her essay “In Plainview” was listed as a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2006. contact