valerie wetlaufer

Avian Nightmare


A sky that blue is not American.

This dream must be set on the shores


of the Mediterranean.

And that parakeet perched


on a park bench represents you.

Are you fleeing from the mistral


or me, both with our dry coldness?

If I call you  by a name known only


in dreams, if I speak the word darling,

you fly to my finger swiftly,


weary of the weather.

Your breast is greener than I’d


expected, black dots like a necklace

before your shock of yellow head.


I’ve never had a bird to sing to me,

forgive me if I don’t know the routine.


Do you take requests?

Whistle for me and blink distantly.


What does it mean my mind gives you wings?









Late Russian


When I loved a Kremlinologist,

she wrote me letters in Cyrillic

but refused to decipher them.


For months we planned a trip

to Moscow, but never left.

She shushed me to sleep with tales


of Marxism, Stalinism,

and Polish surnames.

When I loved an horologist,


I got a watch for my birthday three

years in a row; tiny cogs and hands

spun around. We argued over digital


versus analog, leather wristbands or cloth.

She was never late for an appointment,

but the ticking in our house drove me mad.


This is not a sweet story. We stood in a forest,

one woman on either side of me. We gazed

past each other, into the place where the trees


housed a clearing. They left together.

One had an accent, one small hands.

The snow retained our footprints.


Don’t you dare be gentle with me.

Not with your strong forearms.

I seek no tenderness here.