image of a constellation chart  

Connecting the Stars


I knew what would happen when by accident
I met his eyes across the courtyard.  I remember his sad
brown suit, the red cloth poppy on his lapel.
It must have been Tuesday, because the Art Institute
was free on Tuesdays.  I went every week to visit
a painting of a white horse asleep in twilight,
then sat under yellow trees outside.

I was a secretary at Chicago’s most lucrative
law firm.  The young partner I worked for
had eyes like dead marbles and screamed fuck a lot.
His wife sometimes called, her voice always
teetering on tears.
                              And here was this stranger
standing over me, fumbling with a sandwich
and a bottle of juice, asking if he could
sit down.  He had the sweet, startled gaze
of a boy who wanted me, in second grade,
to be his girlfriend.  His hand trembled
when he offered the cheap business card
I later threw away.
                               I’m not sure why I am
writing about him, or why it’s important to include
the painting, and that partner’s wife.  I can’t see
a pattern, but I think of constellations like
Pisces, and Capricorn, which don’t at all
resemble their names until lines are drawn
to connect the stars.
                                 It was the first September
since my mother’s death.  Did I mention the
white horse was impossibly beautiful?
Every Tuesday, I longed to will myself into
that canvas, and lie beside him in green dusk,
running my fingers through his untended mane.
There now, I’d whisper to him, there now

(This was first published in Poetry East and appears in my chapbook, Blue-flowered Sundress, and in my full-length collection, Rain, Lilies, Luck.)

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