In those years of heat and light we were on fire with syllabus,
we were grease-pummeled and sweated into ashen brown

with salt and human blood. The stain of health
coated our fingers as we inhaled the powder of it,

the smudge and smear of earth, while fate licked icy
beneath the ribs, fate, that cracked and broken

bean that turns to ooze. Is it true the Aztecs
believed hummingbirds represent the soul of warriors

died in battle? Meanwhile the wind blew like a mariachi playing
a trumpet at midnight. I lost you there. The season

was full of ice and the current flowed so fast.


The Difference Between Land and Ocean

The problem with cremation
is there’s nowhere to go
to be present with the dead

person. Call me old-fashioned,
but I want to know their very bones
are near. In the case of my father

I’ve returned to the lighthouse
but it is the place in reverse,
the vantage all wrong,

because we scattered the ashes
from the water not land, and also
because it was a day so foggy

we could barely see
our hands. Last time I was there
was unexpected, on a bike ride,

the day winter clear, windy
with the fear of not getting back
before dark. Still, I clomped

around the corner to look down
to where we had floated
in the boat, to where there was now

a small spout and arch close to shore
and people shouting “whale!”
My father’s is not like the graves

of Gary or Ruby or the baby
in Bodega, where you can go sit
on the green hillside

when you want to be with
them. The problem with the ocean
is not only that it is too cold

but also that it washes everything
away, although at least I can say I held
the last of him in my own hands.


Kathleen Boyle was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals including Zyzzyva, The Seattle Review, and Crab Creek Review.