Judith Skillman
The Front

Sixty days without rain and you stand
in the yard, surrounded by black leaves,
the cough of an animal, and wind. You thought
summer would be enough but it wasn't
in the way nothing is ever enough.

No gift ends the wanting. Sixty dry days
in a wet place, even the bamboo creeping
back into itself, crisped and yellowed.
You the dowager, the widow, the soul
adventure-starved in Paradise.

When the purple cloud comes
from west southwest,
barometer bird tipped, swilling red liquid,
all you crave is the past. Nostalgia—
a number, a figure, a figment? What of girl-

hood didn't you get? Hooted at, whistled,
cat-called. Nick-named, exposed to, molested.
Toward what version of erotica
does bad weather beckon?
Day dreams? Fictions?

Sixty days as in the desert, and you
don't dare to abandon the mattress,
the jewelry—to go back alone by plane
to all the ways chalk changes color
from pink to pale to night.