Ann Garbett
 
 
August

Dog knows.
I hear him under the table
thumping out the news—
it’s the late-summer shed.

Now the brimming farm ponds
have dried to scum
and the last red ruffles
of crepe myrtle
dry on the brown grass.
Earth has cast away
the high expectations of June.
Seed pods split,
tender leaves turn leather.

At the stoplight, I watch
the young man in the next car,
shirtless, tanned dark as a tree.
He draws on a cigarette, drums
on the steering wheel,
his gaze as empty
as the intersection.
I know that look.
Summer has dropped us here
and we sit powerless
waiting for a change of light.

At midnight,
the Perseid meteors fly
like spangles of water
from a dog’s coat
into the hot black sky.
 
 
At Tent Rocks

Go inside a stone. 
That would be my way.
—Charles Simic

Enter the canyon,
wedge of dark in  gold rock,
rose rock, the air full
of pinion’s turpentine, sage,
chamiso’s every spice.

The walls still beat warm
from midday’s scouring sun.
Look up to see them rise
above you, far into the afternoon.

The canyon narrows
to press your shoulder.
Think how the old ones
climbed out of the earth,  wind
breathing its hiss of sand.

Sheltered under a ledge, an ancient sign
for water, sign for hand,
snake sign for seed.
This canyon is the passage.

Embrace the wall, press your cheek
against its clean grit.  Your arms
will feel its shift from the deep center.

High in the ribbon of turquoise sky
you see the shred of the new moon
the way a man trapped in a well
even in daylight can see stars.
 
 
Lost Things

Last night my old friend Joan
turned up, years after her funeral,
in a dream about buying
Christmas ornaments—
one of her icons.

Waking, I think even lost things
must be somewhere close and dry,
 waiting for a shaft of daylight
to hit them.
.
Not to have something in my hand
doesn’t mean it’s gone.
This very minute,
my stolen hand bag hangs
from the shoulder of the girl

who found it at the dump.
She keeps a crimson lipstick zipped
safe in the inner pouch.
The dark blotch leaked by my pen 
still puzzles her.

In the dream, cigarette smoke plumed 
around Joan’s face again. 
She held her favorite cup.
I watched her coffee cool,
while cream signed its surface
into cloudy rings.