A monument of unwashed dishes
has once again risen in the sink
an archaeological record 
of what everyone's eaten this week
so she grabs a scrub pad 
twists on the hot water
and leans into the steam 

wiping condensation from the window 
she can see the ancient widower across the street 
plundering neighbors' recycling bins
recently bereaved, the widower wears
his dead wife's sunhat 
mashed onto his too-large head
he is tall and scarecrow-like  
his clothes look scavenged from trash 
and the wrecked little sunhat 
with cloth flower pinned to its brim 
looks comical on him
he seems a ravaged tree 
badly impersonating a human
while above him a huge eucalyptus 
rustles with squirrels

she clatters spoons into the drying rack 
and wonders why her secrets 
have lately gained the power of myth
like what happened long ago in a tent 
on an island in a lake 
filled with sunfish and water snakes 
the rusty but functional canoe 
overturned on the beach
oars stashed underneath 
her bathing suit had a flounced skirt 
that's how young she was
a fondle and a squirt and it was over

it's almost not worth scrambling eggs
if they're going to stick to the pan so bad
is it too early for a glass of booze? 
she thinks a quick spritz of endorphins 
would hit the spot right now

after the initial vodka sip 
she believes she could live a different kind of life entirely 
perhaps in a tent? could she taste the happiness of saints 
in their dark, unwashed garments
living only for herself, god as her alibi? 
a saint's joy dry and crumbly 
as a handful of stale cake?
                                                                      
children toss a frisbee across a parched lawn 
as streetlights waver on 
and a girl and a dog play under a picnic table
while the mother reads her Sunday paper on the stoop
by porchlight one sister walks outside
holding a spatula and says, "how can anyone 
take you seriously with that frosted blue eyeshadow?"
and they laugh

she wipes coffee grounds off the counter 
with a towel that's had its personality bleached away
the sun plummets in runny pastels
who knew shame was such a large part of growing older
as though through lack of vigilance you'd slid into ruin 
as though drunk in front of everyone you'd fallen 
down a flight of stairs

these endless ill-fitting versions of womanhood...
should she envision herself as something else?
a flower full of fluorescing nectar? 
though aren't those mostly deathtraps for insects?
the green afro of the orange tree 
studded with tiny white blossoms 
might be nice to be 
or maybe a fleet, arboreal creature 
who can smell the age and relative health 
of each leaf before eating it

a feminine epic lives in her under wraps
like a field of sheet-draped statues 
fugitive, incognito, and when some of her ancestors 
that chorus of ghost-women finally take her hand 
and smooth her hair, they smile in sympathy as
the last of her mother's wineglasses cracks 
against the scoured pit of the sink
as the cypress tree sways perilously
when an owl lights on its pinnacle

she takes potatoes from the bin and lights the oven
her guts grumble reminding her
of the sloshing bag of viscera she is

when you love someone is it your duty to tell them?
shouldn't you keep those revelations to yourself?
so far, her strategy has been to construct a hive of silence
to tuck honey away where no one will find it
in residual moments of the day
as the last flaming swipes of orange 
abandon the sky to grey
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