This November, the pears are as hard as wood
but taste like the honeysuckle I used to pick
from the chain-link fence in the alley, nipping the end
and drawing the stamen out, slowly, until that one
sweet drop beaded at the bottom—one of the houses
is wild with honeysuckle. When I came to You naked,
Your language was a river while outside the desert wind
blew the mountains clean. We walk in and out of houses
looking for You: behind one, a grapefruit tree grows.
I think it’s a sign because it’s beautiful, because
I buried my mother with the fruit between her teeth.
The house number of another is the year we were married,
and a scrawny kitten nests in the crawl space
of the raised foundation. In the yard of a dark house,
camellias and a magnolia whose blossoms
spell h-o-p-e. All the doors, gaping mouths with keys
dangling at their throats, refuse to speak, and again,
I stand dumbly, wondering if You will send a sign—
four mourning doves out of season, or a fire
that won’t consume wood, just a small one in the brush
beneath the side fence. I pace the shape of our bed
on a bare wood floor and quietly press my ear
to the plaster wall wondering if this is the house
where You’ll speak through water, whisper down the pipes.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.