For Tony Hoagland


She curls out of bed and onto the couch

at ten-thirty in the morning in her pajamas

with skulls and snowflakes falling on a field

of black fleece. She’s sitting cross legged,

folding at the waist to grasp the can of tobacco.


Coffee cup in right hand, tin in left,

trying to retrieve a rolling paper through

the dense fog of waking, trying to switch

#1 and #3, unable to think to use

the coffee table for its intended purpose.


She must have dreamed of war again,

her hand stretching toward the poison

king’s biography—trying to divine

his secrets of immunity, or the recipe

for Greek fire is burning through her mind.


The end of every story is loss, but I revel

in her now—the way her fingers swish over

the pages; digging for secrets as chipped

as her fingernail polish; the curve

of her hips, begging to be cupped.







Photo by Philippa Willitts