Did I ever tell you that years ago I escaped
the icy sidewalks and falling snow to buy my first
for a girl named Judy? In Kresge’s five-and-dime?
Early dark made the front windows into slabs of black,
so with card in hand, I drifted down the aisle
to my favorite spot past the pink lingerie, and dreamed
at a tank teeming with goldfish, watching them
spurt and glide, balance perfectly still, before facing
that brittle outside dark again. Oh, don’t worry,
you’ll have chocolate, and roses too, but remember
how once, windward of the jetty, we lost the engine?
I drop the anchor quick but those quarry rocks,
blacker for the sun and pale blue water, keep coming
closer and closer. My eyes race down the rope
through thirty feet of water clear as dreamfright
to where the anchor flukes are plowing the bottom,
then catch on coral, halting those ragged black rocks
only ten feet from our hull. Then it was you
who lifted the cowl, found where the coil
wire frayed, and gave us fire again.
So we lingered, engine idling, to watch beneath the boat
a huge school of spade fish shaped and striped
like those french angels our son used to have in his tank.
Suddenly they were gone.
Which is to say, you always take me back
to teenage gold and the primary colors
of coral and communal fish, that pale blue
water on which our down-looking faces float,
slide into each other and eclipse,
as in a dream—one more way
that we merge, rarely guessing how often we drift
into, away from, around, and through.