Theory of Tides

by Cherry Pickman

selected by Lucia Perillo

All Winter


Women are at their windows here for lack
of yards. In a harbor the wind drags bodies

of water to shallower places; swallows
form substitutes for clouds. Feathers, it seems,

make up the waves, the continuum of them,
and their fluttered movements you could almost

mistake for light. The lamp lights the room not without
difficulty; without warmth. I am this too, and only this

deficient. Mornings are straw-colored and arable
to wonder. I hope, in time, the spectrum isn't as important

as the one insistent and hard-ringing color. In our shadowed
and shaded walks I sometimes smell wild mint, its

disintegration or regeneration, and think, green. What other
reflex feigns false growth? Veins are estuaries

to the heart and nothing pools there but pushes
and pumps back into the available and intricate currents.

And yet all winter we follow the scattershot
wake of stones along the service road,

the cold around our throats so sharp so much
like fire; if you spoke, would your voice, however trackless,

trespass the lit distances of salt-hardened snow
to reach me; would I be whole enough to behold it, however

diminished. Women are at their windows here for lack
of better weather; whatever the witness bears she is

burdened by, however warmed. She sees you, in an effort
of tenderness, talking me through the cold; beyond that,

the harbor, the feathers laying down their flight.

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