At Cathedral

At Cathedra
by cindy kelly

The hemlock branches
like tatting shuttles,
frustrate the sun,
light comes through
like lace, falls in
an Irish crochet
on my face, in a tilt
toward ninety-foot giants.

A quiet soundtrack,
hard rubber soles
of my diabetic shoes
crunch soft on the needles
that make black water
for canyon, for falls,
and I’m thinking of the way
that fifteen seconds
told me, in a sudden,
whether I liked you.

I rest on the stump
of a long-dead hardwood,
it’s covered in the sweet
and damp of club mosses
the same green as his eyes,
that guy I kissed
on the South Ferry
in 1997, in July,
never knew his name
but the air was hot and sticky
that night, like this.  

The forest smells deep
like the black of bananas
left to over-ripe for bread,
the kind of smell that wants
closed eyes and bottomless breathing.

I like it lonely
like this, I wander
the narrow of Partridge Berry
Trail, of Wood Thrush Trail,
through virgin hardwoods,
think about how easy it is
to be friends with trees.  

People are harder, I think.
to find fascination
in the way your neck turns
into shoulder is effortless,
but the sound of your voice
ricochets ugly in my ears.
I am honest about these things
and I think about how it must seem
when I stand in front of you,
talking unfiltered,
then look down your throat,
absorbed in the pink of tonsil
when your jaw drops open,
how it sounds when I say
you remind me of white grapes,
peeled of their skins,
pretending to be eyeballs
in a Tupperware bowl
at some girl’s eighth grade
Halloween party.  

I tell you things
without consideration
for feelings or politic,
things about bad breath,
stupidity, hideous grammar,
how rude you are
and how in the hell
did you ever pass
your driving test.

I tell you these things only
because I want to be fascinated
with you, with your small feet,
white teeth, the grace
with which you drink
from the fountain at the park.
I want to share this place,
its shade and its sweat,
but the photographs come out
fuzzy and underexposed,
the colors don’t translate,
and I communicate no better
than they do.

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