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Like Poem By Cathleen Calbert

Like Poem By Cathleen Calbert

When that fallen leaf of a girl,
my milkmaid,
banana-pan-cake,
Listerine, little tickle,
honey muffin, desperado,
Mystic, Connecticut,
difficult situation,
forever amber waves of loving debate,
her eyes like dying doves,
like my own desire,
her milky/dewy/cloudy neck
a chrysanthemum of hopefulness,
her hair burning like a hay fire,
like a gas jet,
like a matchstick,
the czarina’s hot jewels,
an act of forgiveness,
a misunderstanding,
burning, I tell you, just like fire,
her breasts like the snowcones of my youth,
like macaroons, a fine flan,
strawberry PopTarts
(with powdered sugar and water icing),
yet, truth be told, really more
like the mammary glands of cute, young monkeys,
her belly a valley of despair
for travelers from third world
(that is, developing) countries,
her thighs a memory…of something,
her feet like Peppermint candy,
like a clam’s treasure offered up nightly
at the sandy fish shacks
along Little Compton, RI
(the best-kept secret of our ocean state,
the smallest one in the union
and yet not any less
beautiful for all that),
finally spoke to me, her lips
like diamonds, like sapphires,
like the best canned spaghetti,
I listened like a chimpanzee,
like a defrocked priest,
like the last dying fish
in an unclean fishbowl
atop a dead woman’s antique bureau,
to her words as if
I had a red ribbon tied around my neck
a coughdrop lodged in my larynx,
hairball in my idiotic kitty-licking throat,
like I was the cat falling
sixty floors from a luxury building
and who knows goddamned well
that it’s not going to land
on its famous feet this time, jack,
no matter how many ambulances are waiting,
their cherries circling like helicopter blades,
their white doors as open as Thanksgiving,
spewing forth neatly groomed ambulance men,
with their asphalt-black hair slicked back
like a duck’s happy ass in a bucolic setting
of wild bunnies
and fearless, full-grown fawns,
where like-minded lovers
can hold each other’s hands
like lovers holding each other’s hands
on a bright winter morning,
when the new snow,
has made everyone as happy,
as the first day of spring
when it feels like—
“I don’t love you,”
she said, just like that,
and, brother, let me tell you,
that I felt like,
I felt like,
I felt

Cathleen Calbert
first published in Poetry Northwest, vol. XLI, no. 1, Spring 2000

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