Two Poems
Phoebe North

"The memory was marked with a claw hammer. . ."

The memory was marked with a claw hammer in soft tissue; no one needed to leave promises of planted seeds folded into torn envelopes. You would always recall that shadowed afternoon fossil hunt on the crumbling shore of the Raritan, cleaved driveway stones rattling in green dresser drawers, narrow imprints in the slender shape of ankle bones swathed in ratty pieces of his candy-striped bathrobe. He didn't need to leave you those unfulfilled ballpoint predictions, what he thought was a gift in left-slanted print because on your first date, age 4, you hid behind a knot of fingers at the astronomical explosions in tin-can space ships, gasping at the brightness when you stepped into the sun.

But he gave you his word. And now there is a gap between your ribs in the shape of ugly, twisted trees.

"There are so many boys whose eyes drop. . ."

There are so many boys whose eyes drop into your river like blue pebbles marked with fossils, the ancient depression of bone. Once you waded knee-deep and were blue-jeaned sweating savages and rotting silver-fish and green foam swarmed your ankles and later the sun climbed the sky and the heat passed over you and you were choked with body odor and smoke and furtive movements in dark, romanced by the notion of long-distance phone calls, philosophy, seven dollar editions of ginsberg and mixed-taped dronings of footnote-to-howl. That was August, but there are other Augusts, when he shows you his cancer in the cemetery and you laugh because you see the beginning, the very beginning of the very end.