Emotional Affair

            1. California Girl

I dream of whales off Big Sur, floating, 
opened, stripped & blowing air on the tide

I pass,  
electric freeway trees sway swift, whizzing past, 

change pitch-night into day & I’ve missed you 
for twelve years, because nothing fits. 

& I felt naked the day we met that winter. 
There blew salt in my eyes, 

& the smell of sardines fried on the beach,
& my pager went off—someone talked of mandatory 

overtime, a possible four feet that night. Time to call
the wife. Where slowly, a steady something small 

tugs at my big toe from our belly’s empty yawn, 
so hungered its laces—our old torn, black leather shoe—  

All the world’s a fashion & shoes will finally fit or fail. 
Cinderella had it easy on her first sooty try 

after rolling down her hose—
why, O why, can’t I?  

I’ve felt like an ugly step-sister 
all my life, forcing my feet to comply. 

I can’t. 
Why, O why, can’t I? 

I want to break my heart all over you until I bleed dry, 
just as the whales knock up on rock with the pounding 

yesses & nohs of the Pacific—the gap between those;
the pain of Poseidon’s green hammers— 

fletchers’ harpoons peppering their sides, 
torn in the wind, undressed—

            2. Object Permanence 

This is the day I wonder
whether the desk where 
you sat loved me too.

Did the paperweights follow 
to the copier & whisper 
with our colleagues?

Did the spoon in your tea
wish you good luck? Was it
going according to plan?

            3. Is it Too Much to Ask?

What used me sore after we parted;
her tasteless requests for boxed television dinners, 

an apoplexy at her litanies—
put in the lightbulbs, pick up the toys scattered everywhere, 

children into the shower, into the bath, 
wipe every ass,  

don’t come near me, 
wash this time, 

take the trash out already, 
would you mind?      

The Sonar and Love of the Pacific Humpback Whale

With jerks & twitches at your absence, the peaceful California whales 
clear space between my ears & beat against the hydrangeas & hollies 
they sound, where I fall to fitful sleep for two hours. So good, a dream 
to meet again. You walk in the snow away to the women making baskets 

at the Falls of the Ohio, who knit branches to stop the sky from falling, 
and come back with hushed knowledge your marriage can’t survive us. 
You look me in the teeth & I eat them like a fool—truth tumbling out 
while you run away. I am scared witless to leave my brood, nowhere to go. 

Then to hear your tentative squeak & walk on tightrope over ocean nonchalant 
making business calls on a cellular phone. Inside the receiver you are 
three massive inches tall, much smaller than before. Nonetheless 

your voice stretches vast as a southern coastline. You’ve no husband, 
my wife, flown.  We agree to mend. What remains is that edgy feeling. 
I get to know myself again.