When they canoe they face one another, tip their sisters
over. Herons flee. My best friend and I pretend
we don’t live here either, that we don’t shop at Fern’s
Bait and Tackle in October, November, in the December
mist that runs off the redwood leaves, don’t stop
for the gold of a cube of butter or a roll of toilet paper
on the way home from a track meet, spikes of cleats
pocking the linoleum floor. You’re cruel, city boys,
frothing peaches into vodka in the blender,
cologne slicking your parents’ hot tubs. Why do we
kiss you back when you outstay your girlfriends
with their string bikinis we could never afford,
thieves of our summer beds and cotton curtained
windows through which we’ll watch the winter
river swell, then surge in February, March, in April,
the island in the middle disappear. Just the willow
weed’s paired leaf-tips float on runners like the hair
of a girl near submerged who outwaits your
departure and breathes through her parted lips.
Photographer’s Note: I visualize a country girl as she sits in the chair in her bedroom, looking out the cotton curtained window with a sense of either longing or regret.
The Marriage Counselor Channels King Solomon
You have to imagine it, he said, everything halved.
Our three children, our Husky, the cat. And
everything doubled. Bedrooms, debt, grief. But
didn’t imagination bring us here? Yours first:
What a stranger could do for you. Then, mine
when I found out: What else didn’t I know?
What’s real are the hours I nursed our babies
in our bed, then floated in perpetual vigilance
each night making sure neither of us rolled
over on them in our sleep. And as they grew
the hours you stayed within swimmer’s reach
of them in the river no matter the current’s
speed. Sturgeon swill in oblong circles
beneath the cliffs where we met as children,
moon in plain view but celestially far like
this coin of trust we must both earn back.
Photographer’s Note: This photo most literally represents the last two lines of the poem. But it also encompasses the mood of cloudy confusion, the dizzying effect of imagination and reality swirling together, in an attempt to find light at the end of a long tunnel.
Tania Pryputniewicz is the author of November Butterfly (Saddle Road Press, 2014). Recent poems appeared or are forthcoming in Chiron Review, Journal of Applied Poetics, Light: A Journal of Photography and Poetry, Nimrod International Journal, Prime Number Magazine, San Diego Poetry Annual, San Pedro River Review, Silver Birch Press, and Whale Road Review. She teaches poetry at San Diego Writers, Ink and lives in Coronado, California with her husband, three children, one blue-eyed Husky and Luna the formerly feral cat.