There was no harm in loving then,
no certain good either. But love was loving servants
or bosses. No straight road issuing from it.
Leaves around the door are penciled losses.
Twenty years to fix it.
Asters bloom one way or another.
–John Ashbery, “Meaningful Love”
Like pixels of light
our skin was red green blue.
There was no harm in loving,
eating almonds in the backseat
and traffic smearing the rain
red green, red green but even then
color was dropping
out. The muted symphony
of the moving window, the slow blade
droning either/but, either
but no certain good, either
love was loving pixellated moments
like watching you alight
for the dock,
or how you ran to water. Light
cut the planks in straight lines
or servants or bosses. By morning
every wet footprint wicks away,
no road issued from it,
nothing more than tea leaves.
I’m hanging round the door
Our twenties as traces of chalk.
A few trips to the lake.
The dock skims water, the sky
flashes red, red. Nothing to fix it,
there’s not enough postage
for the letters, but asters
bloom one way or another, rainwater
beads. My cracked cup runneth.
Elizabeth O’Brien lives in Minneapolis, MN. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The New England Review, Diagram, Sixth Finch, Carve, Whiskey Island, decomP, PANK, CutBank, Swink, Versal, Juked, A capella Zoo, The Leveler, Slice, The Emerson Review, Flashquake, The Found Poetry Review, Glide Magazine, and other journals.