—for Tamar Craig
I knew the hard winter of sapphires
set within gold claws,
amber and pipestone strung on gut,
fringed pouches stuffed with hash.
Separate, separate, I urged her
that summer of Woodstock,
when I lied to get the car
and draped my love beads
around the neck of someone else’s sister.
In a hayloft in Ohio
my friend lifted three bales
to show me a litter of week-old kittens,
each pair of eyes infected with a slimy mucus.
Their pupils swam in opaque opal membranes
and they would have gone blind
if she had not pulled an eyedropper
of antibiotics from her jacket,
doing what the mother cat
could not do, what the owners
would not trouble themselves to do,
doing what a sister or friend
might do if she took the time
to attend the wayward, opalescent
unhappiness in this world.
“Opals” from All-American Girl by Robin Becker © 1996. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.
Source: All-American Girl (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1996)