The Goldenrod are Dying

and you are sure you’re doing all this 
wrong. You commend yourself for stretching

deeper than the old women 
on either side, you admire the tendons rippling

in your foot and still, 
you can't figure out how

to love. You don't smell it yet, but next week,
if it’s still warm enough for bikes,

their dying will certainly 
reach you. Always

the grieving, even for the squirrels
who escape, who remember 

where their past is buried. 
Is this your mother’s
voice? Still overruling
your own? It’s cuffing 

season—everyone is knitting
their socks together, making sacrifices, waiting

for the sun to stop 
trying so hard. You pedal faster

past the browning 
flowers and hope

Love Letter to the Estranged

            after Ocean Vuong

Krista, do not fight your grief. Your throat
is an eruption but lava forges
worlds. Close your eyes. Your mother 
went dormant long ago and you live

so far from the caldera, now.
Yes, you still burn on the back 
of a shoulder, the tip of your index finger, each
of your tear ducts, but here, now, you
no longer smell of smoke. 

Krista, you are safe. You know
the size of your footprint 
in ash and, love, it has grown

so large. Here is a bed 
with sheets of water. Here is a fireproof
lover. Krista, do you remember

how to rest? Stomach still
as an aftermath? Forget
the summit. Forget the men

buried in your 
cliffs. If you shudder
long enough, you can shake

their anchors from your angry
skin. Some day, you will 
wake to find your mother 

crumbling into some
distant sea. Here is a sky
so clear, just waiting to be filled. I promise—

I promise you, this smoldering
is not your ruin.