Then there was the time I looked directly into the face
of the life I thought I was missing,
of love. I used to think to be not alone meant
never having to walk through the high wheat
or struggle in the water. Not having to decide not
to fling from some height.
Once, the two of us rode one bicycle.
I wore a straw hat and perched on the handlebars
and beside us the sea oats swayed like skirts
and I heard a trilling in the crabgrass.
The sidewalks were bleached as Grecian stone
as we rode past the fish shop smelling of morning—
salt, bread, limes, men.
Riding in front, it was such that
I could not be heard always, at least not the first time
for you pedaled into the wind
and my hair was a ribbon in your eyes.
I said I thought bougainvillea was a stoic plant
and then had to say twice, no, stoic! and then
no, the bougainvillea! and then you said easily
it was nothing like that at all.
But our future was clear enough when I asked if you saw
the clean aprons of those men
(how much longer you think until they clean the fish?
did you see how white those aprons were? did you see?)
To which you said
How much is it, then, you think you need?