Washing at Sunset

My hands touch the water and I'm
crying. Simple as that.
I keep trying to put things together,
more than tears and water
while the sun, squeezed
between cloud and mountain,

focuses warm as a hand on my back.
I don't move. Wondering why the sky
opened like that, I see
myself in the water
with the sun behind and the dark
shape of the water nodding.

Nodding as if to tell me yes,
say yes to the man in the doorway
who has asked me to stay.
But it's not that simple, nothing is.
It's all too tangled

in years and the ways my body
knows his and knows nothing at all.
And it's this that I fear--the sun
setting over the mountain
like his mouth on my breast
and me wanting to push it

away, to run out into the street
naked, laughing.
It's too late to tell him lies.
The sun on my shoulder
is his hand and our motives are certain:
the parody of self

that is sometimes beauty.
The warm flesh. The fear
I want to name love.
I'm afraid I fall through life
and learn nothing--it is simple as that.
Simple to lift

my hands from the water
and turn to face into the sun.
And I would say simply

Copyright © Neile Graham, 1994. All rights reserved.
Previously published in Spells for Clear Vision and the anthology, More Garden Varieties II.

Sample poems

From Blood Memory

(at The Alsop Review): Story 1 § Sleeping With Lambs § Furious § The Basement Exit § Paper Rock Scissors Stone Water Air § Storyteller Talking At The End of Her Days § You Designed the Map § Ravenous § Tuppence in Pocket § Sheela-na-Gig § A Course in Sadness

(here onsite): The Skin of our Teeth § Woman at the Edge of the World

From Spells for Clear Vision

My Grandmother's Photograph § Washing at Sunset § Midfire § Hero at the Gates of Hell

From Seven Robins

Heart of Stone § November Arrives on the Coast § Seven Robins § Sky is that Moment § St. Maudlin (La Folle)

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