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To New Jersey

by Gina Tomaine

I flew to New Jersey
over cardboard states and painted swimming pools,
landed in your arms, naked,
swore to never leave –

to live on trampolines and sandboxes,
to watch you throw a football every day,
to tan from all the love streaming down on a summer afternoon.

London and Nairobi, they felt far away,
I’d lost sight of poverty and politics, literature and afternoon tea,
crawling in your shelter, crying in spaghetti for
my grandmother, who had held me, her papery hands filled with cancer,
and told me that everything was not lost.

Time poured into me like melted butter when I touched your lips,
I learned that love could be the blunt blade and the stitches after.

I counted days
on a calendar composed of arms and hands,
and hands and arms,
the guitar-calloused fingertips
and two-door car
of the king of a fake empire.

The Iroquois were all gone, the land was settled into tight geometry,
the shopping malls were closing in
while the sprawl dribbled forward
like a Stephen King novel thinny and the plastic death
of everything that’s wild.

But God—all I wanted was you and your skin,
the heat of the sun through the opening in the trees,
the deck your father built, the pool I’d never swim in.

Read all work by Gina Tomaine


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