On Turning Sixty
When I leave my husband
alone for an evening, he microwaves
the soup I make in batches for nights
like this. It could be a dress rehearsal,
you never know.
By this age everyone’s had a Guggenheim—
I applaud myself with my mother’s
hands. How old
is the cheese in the fridge bin?
I should grate some over the soup.
I should be grateful for such good genes.
Empathy is in short supply
when all around me—
the lamentations of swanning
I’ve caught myself in so many lies.
Weights and measurements are an inexact
science. I prefer the fashion statement.
I prefer a bit of flare
even when it makes me appear
aloof. Or did I mean to say alive?
My mind swerves over the median.
I’ve crossed so many lines—
What do you think of this scarf?
I’ve had it for ages.
I am at my desk, while at the same time
I have lit the burner to boil water for tea.
I am at the stove, while at the same time
I empty the last fire remains from the hearth.
I am at the hearth, while at the same time
I slip beneath the down duvet on my bed.
I am in my bed, while at the same time
I am in the garden and hear a bird.
An ornithologist would know the bird,
its origin and could imitate its song.
I learned to play the flute by listening
to the birds in the vast maples out my window.
The boys next door would watch me undress
in my window until their mother told mine.
My mother was more often in the garden
than in her kitchen or at a desk or in bed.
But when I stand at the stove, she’s there
frying codfish and boiling green beans.
She is hunkered over a novel by the fire
and when it reduces down to ash, she rises
and flicks the desk light off before she walks
upstairs and climbs into bed where she hears
the bird and knows its name and vows
to tell me in the morning.
~for my sisters
Middle-aged, hot B-type stars
not a billing really, more a snarky aside—
whispered too loudly by a passing cluster
clutching cocktails at a high school reunion.
We of beautiful bones, bright eyes
obvious to the naked eye in a night sky—
Even now in winter, time
and distance freeze us in the past.
We were a town of sisters then—
an abundance. A mess
Our bodies the stuff of stars,
carbon, nitrogen, oxygen atoms
aligned. We left an atmosphere behind.
That’s what lingers, the blue heat—
luminous, the stories spilling over time
and how we sail through it all.
Heidi Seaborn is Executive Editor of The Adroit Journal and author of [PANK] Book Award winner An Insomniac’s Slumber Party with Marilyn Monroe (2021), Give a Girl Chaos (2019) and the 2020 Comstock Review Prize Chapbook, Bite Marks. Recent work in American Poetry Journal, Beloit, Copper Nickel, The Cortland Review, The Greensboro Review, The Missouri Review, The Slowdown with Tracy K. Smith, Tinderbox and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in Poetry from NYU. http://www.heidiseabornpoet.com