THAT SUMMER

The roof burned continuously.
I passed long hours learning

the names of various shades of blue
Air Force blue, cornflower blue,

Persian blue, periwinkle.
Night came early where I lived

with my mother and three brothers
and no one to read to me to sleep,

though the herd of clouds grazing
at the end of the street would always

lift their big, shaggy heads to listen.


FACE DOWN IN HISTORY

Then the gypsies abandoned their camp
and the stars sank down to candles.
All I could see was what could be
surmised from circumstance,
a dancing bear with a head scarf
and one gold earring climbing into a cab.
I was never so young again.
The banished Polish princess
who shared her orange
spit the seeds out on the floor.
She said rule number one was simple,
like the valley between her breasts.
There was no rule number two.