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Heather K. Robinson

January 2010

Toward Closeness


you held me still
with a stare –
never had to yell, grab
handfuls of hair
to shove me your direction.

you would rake
palms down a rock
wall to feel loose gravel
drive holes into your skin.

there was the time
you put a fist through the bedroom door –
pinned my arms and thighs
to the waterbed we sold.

I threw your clothes
in the clipped grass –
piles on the sidewalk –
ripped the shirt you wore

from the neck to the waist
I used to hold with bruised lips –
throbbing from the words
that kept me in you, like stone.

The Color Green

I ate a crate of avocados
on the front porch with my father.
We peeled them before anyone could catch us.
I sucked the seeds clean and he laughed
at the  green slivers under my fingernails
as he sprayed my hands with the water hose.

I can still see my mother driving her ‘79 mustang
on a rural stretch of road – driving into or to
no place, or maybe even back
to San Antonio. The windows down,
hands white-knuckled on the wheel,
her aqua tank top exposing  green
bruises next to her armpit.
I could see the outline, the familiar
palm-print against her porcelain skin –
my face turns toward the backseat
sees the oversized avocado suitcase;
reach my hand inside the unzipped lid
to find it empty.

Off Road

we were stuck; tires feet deep,
drowned flaps billowing smoke.
tires no longer squealing
when you left me with him.
you held my hand under
the seat and pressed lips
against my ear and collarbone
when you thought no one was watching.
then you went to find help –
he locked the truck door
as I reached to grab my bag
from the floor –
not fast enough to arch
back from the slap
of his hand against my neck –
pushing back to straddle the one
leg exposed by my scramble to unlock –
I never knew why you left me
but now I am unable to ask
you to explain.

moving out

hoping each remnant – you would vanish –
the stench of work clothes and resin residue.
       permit you back
       to pack leftovers
       instead of moving
       you left fragments
of ashtrays and candles, a splintered mantle
over the fireplace with no grate of wood.
every square foot of the floor
from the door to the bed
that I finally threw in the dumpster
when I could not wash away your scent.

you broke the crystal frame, a gift
that held the kids
we were six years before
the shards scratched my face
and left a red abrasion
 on the striped shirt you wore,
which no longer fills my laundry basket.

Lead Skies
(taken from the first line of “Winter Morning in Charlottesville”)

we could just talk about weather –
the sky is no longer gray
more like oil with iridescent
purples shifting into greens;
resembling the oil puddle on our driveway,
overflow angled toward the garden,
which has become a stain, there almost a year.
you made no attempt to soak it up
with kitty litter or sand when fresh
and now it’s too late.
you could have used an oil pan
to prevent the blemish altogether,
but then what excuse would I have
to satisfy, to become your image –
a great-horned owl tearing out tufts of hair
 a rodent still in my sharp beak,
a yellow-eyed bitch for your amusement.
maybe then we would risk
having to speak about why you should fix the car,
save my tea roses from clusters of speckled foliage
and now there will be no buds or hips this year.
you could turn the conversation, speak
 about my purpose; your stained jeans,
 the elastic band in your underwear,
which has now become my mistake
as I look for safety pins,
and why would anyone notice
what doesn’t belong to them.
rising, risking, having to speak
about something other
than disease at the breakfast table,
and who wants to be hostile after pancakes.
we may, by accident, sink too far
into our skin – our selves
forgetting the other’s presence
and begin speaking secrets
we never intended to tell each other.
then I would have to share
I really love Robert Hass the same
way I love miniature paintings –
the ability to scale down largeness
of landscape without losing detail –
the effort to draw me toward closeness,
to notice largeness in the smallness of things.
you laugh at such intimacy, so I tell you without thinking
you cannot withstand the same proximity.
closeness only clarifies the flawed slope
of your nose, from a fight in the fifth grade, for a moment
and a right tilt of my head, backing away from your lips,
reminds me it’s only an illusion.
besides everything is a constant move,
an easing into a new mode
of being close and far away simultaneously –
we can sit intently, heads bent over
our overseas coffee, the steam rising between us
on the first cold morning of the year
and not talk about anything.

Heather K. Robinson is pursuing an MFA degree in poetry from Texas State University. She loves an “All-American” road trip and treks abroad – living in Mexico and Germany for short periods of time. She teaches college writing and has worked as an editorial intern, advisor and reader for Southwestern American Literature, Front Porch Literary Journal, Words Work Literacy Journal and Persona. Heather's poetry is forthcoming in Bare Root Review.

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