Glimpsing a hitchhiker standing
in front of the bridge, I stop.
She wants a ride all the way up my hill,
wants to sell her motorcycle
to my next-door neighbor.
She says she saw my home while looking
for a shortcut to the next valley,
saw the spider plants under the skylight,
smoke curling out the stovepipe,
but did not knock to see who lives there.
I offer to show her the inside,
we walk down the trail and here we are,
would you like a cup of tea?
She smells the memory of my breakfast,
and now I’m frying pancakes for her.
I notice how often our eyes meet
while we talk about who we are.
We hug goodbye with hips pressed tight.
I offer her a ride home later.
She looks down, nods, and we kiss.
All evening I wait for her,
who said she’d visit tonight,
who has another man,
who might have any reason
for not being able to come.
I play guitar, read fragments
of books I’ve read before,
fix myself dinner for two
and eat most of it myself,
undress and go to sleep.
From dreams I hear her voice
and open my eyes to a room
dim with moonlight. She knocks.
I shake myself awake and
get out of bed to hug her.
Her body’s chill. She drops
her jeans and slides into bed
in white velour shirt and unders.
Not thinking she’d be out
this late, she wore no jacket.
We kiss and hug, and soon
she’s nude and we’re making love
with all the blankets thrown off,
her body darker than mine
on the pale rumpled sheets.
Dawn comes too early.
Wide awake, I smell the skin
of my sleeping lover’s back.
The house I created by myself,
plans on paper turned in to boards
carried one by one down a long trail
through the woods and nailed together,
is filling up with scarves and pillows,
plants and toys, a goldfish bowl.
I’m sawing shelves for Johnny’s room,
insulating the solar water tank,
making you a closet pole,
thinking about you most of the time.
Johnny plays with Siren’s litter,
five kittens, black, striped, and gray,
who nibble feet, squeak like pigs,
are learning to like cheese and yogurt.
Sappho’s litter in a box,
just a pair with eyes still closed,
Johnny watches but does not touch.
After the engine rumbles up
the hill and stops, I see you walking,
carrying a box and smiling,
telling me what you brought home this time
while we share a welcome kiss.
From dreams I fall awake,
fir boughs brightening blue to green,
a lump of cat between my legs and Jeani’s,
two kittens galloping up and down a chair.
Jeani stirs when I touch her skin and smiles,
pulls the rumpled covers from between us,
melts her mouth on mine, hears whistles outside,
says she likes waking up to birds.
The wind chimes catch a breeze and ring once.
We tumble tunnels of sheet and skin,
quickly, slowly, howling quietly.
“You’re the best alarm clock,” Jeani tells me.
Johnny’s up, playing with the kittens,
asking me to make some pancakes.
Coming toward me from the fog,
Jeani appears and kisses me,
as suddenly as she entered my life,
the stranger discussing haiku,
the lover who lives with me.
Back in the van, we sketch each other,
still beginning life’s hello.
Whatever either of us looks at
in the galleries, little Johnny
wants to show us something else.
I take him upstairs awhile.
Jeani says seeing how the artist
did the waves in these watercolors
makes her want to paint again.
She draws me holding Johnny’s hand
walking up the beach to show him
starfish melted like Dali’s watches.
He tries saying, “sea anemone.”
His short attention and endless chatter
become annoying. If I lack patience,
does that mean I lack love?
I leave Jeani and Johnny inside,
and race against a fading streak
of sunset mirrored in wet sand
to scribble rocks and silver waves,
blue gray silhouetted ridge
with bottom smeared by fog, and finish
by the light of sickle moon.
copyright © 1987 - 2005 Carl Miller
The Jeani and Johnny poems start with “Dawn Comes Too Early.” The woman of the first two poems was someone else. The painting of Howard Creek Beach was done from the sketch mentioned at the end of “Sea Sketches.”