And what good is a dream finally? It breaks your head open
and cello music pours out of a stranger’s window and the most
gorgeous woman you ever loved says to hit the road and you do
see them—that stranger and this woman. Kissing everywhere.

In the trees. On boats. In the kitchen cupboards. The fog
of daily life never lifts and the checkbook needs proper
calculations and the dog would like supper please and now
without warning the dream returns. It breaks your head open.

You lie there for a week and no one finds you until the dog
having lost its dignity finally eats and when there is no more
howls. It howls. And you are a missing person, a passage
of shit quivered into the dirt. A good boy. A terrible dream

someone picks up with a plastic bag wrapped in his hand
to throw away and you are thrown away. You do it every day.
Waking too early, driving to work, working and returning.
Reading poems of great beauty and crying at the movies.

Touching the hair of your niece who laughs at water. Flying
over cornfields so close and so openly that when you wake
there is silk in your beard. Your arms are tired and hang
at your sides like the wings of a migratory bird who is about

to die. And what good is a dream finally? It breaks your heart
and you stand in the lush dark of the moment after twilight
ends and begin to sing and nothing makes sense to you
and you sing louder for a while, then awkwardly sit down

where you are. And the stars overhead shine a little—no more
or less than usual—and whether it is daylight and they are invisible
or whether it is night and they are the embers of a blacksmith’s
fire, they shine and you are grateful. That love is like a hammer.

I loved him most
when he came home from work,
his fingers still curled from fitting pipe,
his denim shirt ringed with sweat
and smelling of salt, the drying weeds
of the ocean. I would go to him where he sat
on the edge of the bed, his forehead
anointed with grease, his cracked hands
jammed between his thighs, and unlace
the steel-toed boots, stroke his ankles,
his calves, the pads and bones of his feet.
Then I’d open his clothes and take
the whole day inside me— the ship’s
gray sides, the miles of copper pipe,
the voice of the first man clanging
off the hull’s silver ribs, spark of lead
kissing metal, the clamp, the winch,
the white fire of the torch, the whistle
and the long drive home.