You gargle the way each morning
trusts the soft rustle from a dress
becoming dirt, set out on foot
looking for her in shadows
that no longer move though the sink
is covered with something weak
making believe it’s learned where
your fingers are holding the bottle
in a place not even it will remember
how empty your mouth is, lost
day after day spitting into the Earth
that still opens when you whisper to it.
Review by Jared Pearce
This piece displays a fine sense of imagery and sound. In the first stanza, the image of the gargle melts to that retreating dress, leaving loneliness, and moves from the morning gargle to the dirt in the third line. There’s a trace of that missing presence, sure, signaled in a very nice slant rhyme (sink/weak) which both indicates the trace and the absence and is echoed in the next stanza where memory and finger-memory are both stumped, even to the support of the self (noted in the image of the mouth in the final stanza). And at the end, the Earth will take the spitting, the end of the gargle, the dress, the hidden bottle—the Earth like the sink that will take all our washing—when we spit or whisper into it. A devastating poem, I think, but beautiful.