The title poem from WONDERBENDER


this one's too pale that's too dark

we are discussing shades of yellow when you say please

stop saying you're sorry all the time and i say i'm sorry i don't usually

do that at all with other people but you you take things so hard and you say

if that's true it's my problem

if that's true

i have a strange antipathy to chlorinated smells

circumference means you must go all the way around

tuesday morning for the first time we saw the foxes

two of them trotting like tiny thoroughbred horses around the garden in the small snow

then fading back into the woods

we watched from your study—i with a mouthful of mouthwash waiting

to spit into the sink before i could say thank you thank you

for calling me

we had never seen the foxes before

not in this yard

the woodchucks are common, coyotes sometimes always the raccoons

and lots and lots of birds even wood-ducks

but never the foxes before tuesday no never

this will not mean much to you if you cannot put yourself in my shoes

or in my place with the mouthwash i should say

this will not mean much if you cannot understand fox-beauty or fox-light

or the secondary but also sharp joy later on in the day

of seeing their perfect pawprints near the newly transplanted star magnolia

something will grow in those pawprints in the spring

i have just read for the second time (though the first time i was small) black

beauty and would like to write such a book

i write in first person because i am in first person

just like black beauty

in your voice on the recorded message there was a pale green jacket with a black lapel

in some senses it was a little off-the-shoulder

proving that you could change

i had not heard it the first time

but now it is a comfort

a tall man told my husband that he had called and checked out my story with a psychic

about his cat and it was true

in fact so many of my comments had been validated he could not remember all the details just then

the cat did not want to be just a tenant any more

she wanted to be part of the family

my husband forgot to tell me this right away

but when he did i was overjoyed

last night at the restaurant there were four of us and shiraz and lebanese food

delicious lentils

artichokes in tutus

and we had a nice time and then afterwards three of us went to the restroom

and i stayed behind to put on my coat

a man called my name from another table as i was walking out DIANE he said in a loud voice

i turned around

it was someone i'd known years ago in fact someone i'd championed in a way and he'd

always been grateful

he was all smiley he had grown a beard

and a large stomach

we shook hands

he was sitting at a large round table with perhaps eight other people and he began to introduce me around

his wife acknowledged me but the others did not seem interested

and yet this man was very happy to see me and it was a small but confusing boost

in an evening of sometimes confusing blackened lentils

you must go all the way around

the lentils weren't confusing exactly it was the conversation

but only at times

only in ways i can trace back to my childhood

when i began to hone an impending sense of something about to go wrong

with the air between parents

or not between parents exactly but between one of them at least

and the world

so i carry this seventh sense

in my bookbag

i carry this sense even without a bookbag it is tattooed on me

in the shape of a crocodile

right between my breasts

sometimes i put makeup over it

or hang a cloisonne pendant with a crocodile on it

just there

your desperation is kingpin

has gotten you nowhere

is the reason for oil-soaked shirts that will not wash clean

specks of white calcite on the green back stairs

it's still dark so you can still speak

the dark soft light has crept into the garage

the car is waiting in its innocent darkness

to carry you anywhere anywhere

this is the circumference not the diameter

i could explain it to you pretty well if you like by demonstrating with my hat

i am starting this month a day early


this is necessary because in january

i fell asleep at the most important part

i needed to go all the way the long way around

i tried to buy something made of titanium

but the mines were out of stock

i bought something made of organza

and watched a movie about asteroids which destroyed the earth by virtue

of their superior speed and beauty


dental x-rays showing fields of swollen

wildflowers blue

chicory cornflower

in my mouth

much to the dentist's surprise

or at least he pretended

wonder is bent at various times


and often invisibly

you don't realize till later

it has hurt you

it has hurt you by omission by blocking out

the wonder the laughter the


over something so tiny it can hardly be real

like the miniature monkeys so small when they are born

they're smaller than your thumb

i have seen pictures!

speaking of monkeys the one in the beginning of the lady from shanghai

somehow saddened me

leaping about on a string

love perhaps but a bound love

a little grey shirt and a teacup thimble-sized

and overall in any case i have to say i did not like

that lady from shanghai

wonder when you lay there in that bed

all but dying

it was as if something else possessed you—it wasn't not-you

but you made sounds as if you had to go on

there was nothing i hadn't told you—it wasn't that kind of sad

it was as if something that tied my arm to my body was thinning to a thread

and i knew i would soon be a one-armed woman

for the rest of my life

the miracles of wonder in that long-ago yard with no foxes but deer

small rabbits under the lawnchairs

bright orange and yellow nasturtium complete with ants

thick pears white dogwood johnny-jump-ups in the grass

a few stars replicated in birdsong dogbark kittensigh

your face as a child and wrapping your bee-stung neck in a white t-shirt

drenched in the dragonfly stream

did it help you?

i am sure now that there is no shame in being this way and that no one should deny it

and yet there were many moments even with wonder

when i was ashamed

i ate white crackers with no nutrition whatsoever

perhaps like communion wafers

i offered white wonder in the cup of my two small hands

right up to the stars

i wrote about your headband of pain the stars like a hairnet around your suffering

blue all blue

and as crystalline as the night the wonder kissed me

please love me i knew you wonder would come along


it just took me a long time to find you i thought you were someone else

but you look just like me

you look just like me

you look just like me

I Don't Pray

I Don't Pray

let me in, let me out

Reading -- March 1