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Genine Lentine

Genine Lentine

Word Problem

The X axis of the bridge
stood stable for you,
a point ascending its Y axis
of open stairs; the suspension
bridge did not shudder
when you released your weight
high off the arcing steel,
did not change in any way, coiled cables
taut as your tendons strung tight.

Let X equal black water
Let Y equal 750 carbon steel stairs
Let Y equal your mother's fixed expression
Let Y equal Paul's hand on Nicky's small jewel of a knee
Let Y equal your father standing blank in the neighbor's yard
Let Y equal the sound of your feet echoing
Let Y the arch of your foot

(nearby workmen caught the blur of something falling)
(workmen heard a loud clap to their north)
(workmen saw you make a few strokes after you broke the surface)

I read
(you lived for seven hours)
(they cut your wedding ring from your finger)
(there was foam in your mouth)

I learned
you (drifted 150 yards)
(wore a red and blue sweat suit)
(fell 600 feet)
(climbed the tower in whipping wind)

I measure
(my arms)
They are 27 inches long

All-Night Lot

Even the white plastic bag
       knows something you've forgotten;
              if you wanted to, you could call it

an angel, all alone swirling,
       skittering along the ground.
              Who instructed it in the matter

of spiraling? Who taught it
       this tactic of swooping, testing
              the trajectory of each curve

as if to see how close
       to the blacktop it can fall
              without touching, and then releasing

into the updraft just in time
       to be lifted. If you wanted to,
              you could say it was learning how

to move on earth: taking nothing,
       taking form, taking flight,
              becoming emptier as it filled itself.