Pierrot’s Face

The trail to the museum cuts through the woods.
Generators hum into the wet earth.
A restroom with green tile off the path.
Ahead of me, an older man wears a blue and white coat
recalling a Napoleonic soldier.
In a bathroom stall, he tells me to open my mouth
wider, his breath catching as he comes.
We compose ourselves. My public face is a carnival mask
saying, I am formal and guileless.
I, who in my daily life am rigorous and aware
of limits, remember
the astrologer who told me, Loosening up
is your life’s karmic journey.
The painting I’m here to see is a small, garden scene:
two women speak with Pierrot. Are they gossiping
about the affairs of the local priest?
Is this a rehearsal for a play without a lesson,
a story with deferrals,
torches in the dark, and a bridge to a secret grotto?
One in shadow and the other in quarter profile,
the women respond to his hidden face.
They are bored of his ballads.
They want to see him sweat.
They demand a dance.
Untie the pink ribbons from your shoes!
Everything and nothing, they want for everything and nothing.

Ash and Dust

On this side of the black sand beach,
waves quietly roll ashore. On the other side,
the windy side, they break, hard blue,
but here, even when the moon tugs at the sea,
I can observe tide pools breaking the sameness of the water:
mollusks and urchins, algae like marbled paper.
“Man you’re dust,” says a hermit crab,
grave and playful as the Yahwist,
before eating its breakfast of slimy leaf matter.
For a week, ash settled each night on windshields
and mailboxes from wildfires miles away.
Helicopters sliced a red sky. Today, when I woke up,
drool fouled my cheek. My hands felt hot and thick.
My mind was a small hairless animal, presentiments swarmed.