Thursday, January 20, 2011

Every Sailor needs A Sea

When the snow falls between the hours of December and January, a new year turns. Just like that. A sleep later and you will need to remember to write the date differently, to remember you will turn a year older and to remember that winter has just begun in a sea of white. The second hand moves to the pulse of snow falling outside your window.

Luckily this past new year as the clock arched it's way to midnight, I was standing in an American Legion Bar in Libby, Montana. We, my husband, our friend Ian and his girlfriend, Kassi, all had weak drinks in plastic cups to cheer as the country western band kept playing a slow Merle Haggard. The whole scene of aged couples--women with newly coiffed hair and men with worn cowboy hats danced with belt buckle to sequined top in a twirl like a long poem songed on a worn-out dance floor. We cheered as the neon clock clicked to midnight. We welcomed our luck having set sail out from a winter storm and landed in a warm north western Montana bar.

The next day we moved slow to put our layers onto ski. Our destination was a ski hill, Turner Mountain, which none of us had ever been to and some of us had never even heard of. The night previously as Ian and my husband, Greg, checked into the hotel the owner said, "you guys know what you are doing goin up there to Turner? It's like.." And he used his right hand, angled at a pitch of 90 degrees. "It's well, it's pretty steep."

As we slowly made our way up to the mountain on a crisp clear January 1st morning, we were headed into an area referred to as The Yaak. I have no idea why The Yaak is called this for no animals of the sort live there at least that I know of, but in a way, the name suits the place: mountainous, northern pitch of snow and wilderness. The winding road was densely forested on either side and that morning we weren't too anxious to get anywhere. We went slow. We climbed west in the minivan, but as we looked up to the rising mountains out of the trees we could see a lone ski lift, slowly moving chairs into the clouds. Or so it seemed. We couldn't believe our luck. Again.

We finally reached the parking lot and realized we had all spent our cash the night before and wondered if we could use our cards. Kassi and I headed into the lodge where a modest wood stove pumped heat and a kiosk of sorts had one person behind an aged cash register. The lodge had views of the Cabinet mountains and a few skiers were sitting on long school lunch room tables drinking cocoa from white styrofoam cups. I couldn't decide if we had landed in paradise or a part of the eighties? Some odd whimsical world where the new year was a clock turning back, back and back. I half expected a yak to walk up and want to be fed.

But when the kid behind the kiosk said, "yeah, we take cards." He pulled out what I used to use at my mom's clothing store back in the early 80's for credit cards, a boat anchor of what you could barely call a machine. We signed our carbon copies, gathered our tickets and went out to ski. The day was bright and bold. Beginning our new year in a place we all felt we could have been before. Not a place we had passed in our youth or a place we would have placed as some distanced memory. A place we would want to return to over and over again. The kind of place where you visit before you fall asleep and all you see is bright light from a numb sun. Crystaled light glittering off waves of white. Smiles from your lover in silence backdrop. Memory of your private sea you keep for nights of restlessness.

And that day was endless. We skied all day into the sun, into the leeward drifts, through the glades of open trees and open to what the new year had in store for all of us. We put our faces to the sun as the slow lift brought us up to the top. We just kept saying how amazing our luck had been to find such a place. As if we had found some place we had always wanted to go, but didn't know had exisited before. A place to turn over a year and feel the westering in our lungs as we looked at mountains and clear air.

For many a new year arrives with fog from the night before and a mirror of resolutions. January first arrives with the resolute intention to mark change, newness as if we begin to do push-ups for our brain--to muscle out the old voices and actions we might have grown comfortable with, but know are no longer healthy. But really, in January? In the beginning of the wintering, the new tide of snow that just begins to rise. January really isn't the time for abrupt change. It is a time of quiet reflection of wintering and feeling placed.

For years, I have kept a piece of paper my father gave me that hangs next to my desk. Sent to me in a lone envelope. It's a quote from Emily Dickinson from a letter she wrote to Thomas Wentworth Higginson, 1862.

The Sailor cannot see the North,
but knows the Needle can.

And for years, I kept thinking the needle was something outside of me-some device or some thing. I believed in the metaphor, the meaning, and of course the messenger, but I questioned what was my needle? What mechanics did I have in me to be set in the right direction. Maybe it seems a bit odd, but that day, that first day of January as we rode up into the sky of what seemed like the end of Montana and maybe the end of this earth and into some other world, I had this feeling of direction. I felt placed in a cloud of snow. The needle came to me not some apparatus, but rather a deepening of faith in what I cannot always see, but know is there.

Simply, the needle is awareness in being present...whatever we do to help us be, here. And this is my wish to you, to do what you need to do to be present. To be here even if you cannot see where you are as a place of purpose, know and trust that the needle can. Every sailor needs a sea. Every person needs faith that they also contain a needle in them. And really, north is not the only direction worth heading towards.

So whatever it is skiing, reading, cooking, sailing or singing may you do it with earnestness and faith. May you all feel placed. Happy New Year.

Enjoy the poem.

Earnest Ode

When the sailors are sick of seal fat and salt,

the captain leaves his men like urchins, sails

with a carpenter to South Georgia Island

to climb a mountain in Wellingtons.

Boots suited to plant hydrangeas in the spring

mud of London. He crawls up a glacier of rock,

ice hinged on the South pole. Spring never arrives here

with signs of dirt. It unbuckles from the island of ice

the captain staggered over with twenty-seven men

and the cook’s cat, Mrs. Chippy, the only one left for dead.

Another hunches over his typewriter, thumbs

his beard and tries to write from a spit of marsh

land in Florida. His night sweats smell of hotel

sheets in Cuba, where he never writes or sleeps.

So he returns to the Keys, stales the day

with his six-toed cat, Diego. Sure, there’s gazelle

heads, the tiger from Bengal, but he doesn’t like to look

at cats. He likes to say the word nada, Our nada

who art in nada and sees his father

as an old man on a bridge, somewhere with snow.

And yet, it’s the puppet that gets us.

More monster than man, muppets live together

on one street, where all animals speak.

Unlike Mt. Olympus, muppets don’t travel

much. They teach us to share, like the one

who lives with his partner in a small apartment.

He ruffles Bert’s hair, buys him pajamas,

and writes him songs he sings in the bath,

keeps the door open enough, so Bert will hear

Yes, I'd like to visit the moon
But I don't think I'd like to live there
Though I'd like to look down at the earth from above
I would miss all the places and people I love.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Santa wears a Speedo and swims with Carp

I must confess, I have not tried Christmas carp. Yes in many countries in Eastern Europe the Christmas Eve meal, usually a thirteen course feast, celebrates the prized carp. Now for anyone who may think I have mis-translated the celebratory fish as perhaps salmon or even sol. Nope. Carp.

The winter of 1999 in Europe came in epic proportions of cold, snow and relentless storms. I was living in Kielce, Poland just over an hour north of Krakow in the rolling dales which claim to have the cleanest air in the country as well as being coined the "knife city." Luckily, I rarely saw anything more than men crying in public and pissing while they walked in circles in snowed parks. But what I vividly recall that winter were the women bundled in multiple head scarves, slowly walking from their homes to the city center where a large vat of cold water kept a collection of carp. Not your typical lobster tank with glass, rather more like a large metal garbage container with a step ladder. A man stood with a shovel and a large net, to break the occasional ice that would form a film above the sleepy slow carp, to scoop for pointing bare-fingered babcias.

Most days like others in the city, I walked to work. That week before Christmas it was like a repeated scene, a woman pointing, a man breaking some ice and scooping out a slow fat carp, weighing it and then wrapping it in plastic. The women would lug their wriggling fish back to their home for their annual Christmas Eve clubbing and then eating a celebration of fried fish.

As I confessed, I never had Christmas carp. I went home to Michigan that Christmas. But that last week of school, I finally broke down and asked my students, "so why carp?" They looked at me, all of them from the six to 17 year-olds, as if I had asked them Why Santa? Now, you have to remember, one must be very careful in asking about traditions in a foreign country for you might be asked to defend your own publicly noted "tradtions". Take for instance our gun laws and obesity. All of my students said with blank faces, carp is for luck. "Emilika, fried carp is neeca, really. Ees looki. You know, good fortune. Happy days. Luck in the future."

Now, don't get me wrong I have seen a lot of carp in my days. But nothing that seemed festive or even edible. The carp of my youth were alien fish in the bottom of Lake Michigan gorging on garbage and too often surfaced showing odd bulbous tumors. They seemed like the last fish, perhaps more like a dare really to ingest and perhaps not anything to celebrate, rather to feel sorry for. But really, how would you defend the Thanksgiving turkey when for all that we all know the poor Pilgrims really ate shellfish and nut meats. Hell, maybe they even ate carp?

I've been lucky to have lived in many different countries over the holidays from eating what seems a bit easier to ingest, panatone in Italy, fried cheese in Slovakia and even recall, shrimp on a barbie in Australia. But it is truly the time I spent in Poland, I cherish the most. Because the carp just seem like a metaphor. To search out a carp, kill it in your bathtub and serve it for family and friends seems more about having some kind of faith. Some faith in appreciating what you already might have and not what you hope to get.

So this holiday I tried to make goodies with what I already had around the house. Here's a recipe for Bourbon Pecans. They could be considered a holiday treat. However, when you try these you will be inventing your own private holiday to make more. This recipe is from the Los Angeles Times and feel free to spice it up some more for your own taste.

Bourbon Pecans

1/2 cup top-quality bourbon
1 pound pecan halves
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon angostura bitters
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Simmer the bourbon in a small saucepan over medium heat until it's reduced by a quarter, just a few minutes.
3. Blanch the pecans in boiling water for one minute, then drain.
4. Combine the bourbon, oil, Worcestershire, bitters and sugar in a large bowl.
5. Add the hot pecans and toss. Let stand for ten minutes.
6. Spread the pecans in a single layer on a large baking sheet.
7. Bake until the nuts are crisp and the liquid has evaporated, 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every ten minutes.
8. Turn the nuts into a clean large bowl.
9. Combine the cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
10. Toss with the nuts and serve.

YIELDS: about 4 1/2 cups

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What if Jesus brought a basket of fish tacos?

Don't quote me on this, but the word taco isn't in the Bible. Sure, fondue is mentioned in the Iliad or a reference to melted cheese in a goat's stomach with wine. Of course there are many references to beef in the 8th century Irish poem, The Tain, and as you might imagine, The Inferno has limited if any references to food. Despite the lack of edibles in epic poetry, it doesn't make them any less epic, just less epicurean. I have been wanting to have a series of cooking classes that pair literature with food, but haven't quite figured out what we would do--besides sit around and eat and talk about books, which frankly sounds good enough to me.

People often assume I went to culinary school since I run a cooking school. It's a logical assumption and one that I quite often feel shy about clarifying. I tell people I have my M.F.A in poetry, but while working on a manuscript in Northern Michigan, I decided a way to curb my loneliness would be to spend my nights cooking. If you feed people, they are more likely to come over and fill your sparse apartment. Plus I missed food. I missed food I had had while traveling and living abroad and in Marquette, Michigan your options are limited for ethnic cuisine. Not unless you consider midwestern food such as Friday night fish fry, ethnic or even cuisine. So I cooked, fed others and learned some very elementary culinary skills.

This past month, I had a rare opportunity to share some of these skills. I was asked by a quiet spoken social worker if I would teach some cooking classes to veterans in a local group home. I went to visit the facility and the men had a garden, a communal kitchen and plenty of frozen entrees in their freezer to last through another recession. So for two Wednesday evenings, I went and taught a group of men how to make butternut squash soup with a riata, seasonal green salad with a quick ginger vinaigrette and fish tacos with an apple pico de gallo.

Picture this. Four men wearing ill-fitting plastic gloves de-veining shrimp and talking about their most memorable meal. Each of them had one. No one said they couldn't remember. One man had a memory of a salmon he had caught in the rivers of his childhood, another fondly thought of fresh marlin cooked in the Keys of Florida and another revered a bowl of oatmeal. It was amazing how quickly these men shared with me without having to go through all the social worked steps of getting people to "open up."

This happens so often around a table. People easily share their food memories without a sense of judgment and often without hesitation. And telling stories? It's a way to create collective intimacy. In a few short hours, I learned a lot about these men from injuries to ex-wives and of course, their fondness for food. And maybe this is why teaching cooking is as rewarding as teaching poetry, you get to show people the beauty in being able to feed yourself. Either your stomach or your soul. And maybe on rare occasions, you get to teach people how to feed both.

I'm not sure if I changed any of these guy's cooking habits or interests, but that's okay. It doesn't matter. What matters to me is that for a few hours these guys laughed, told stories, learned how to de-vein shrimp and how to hold a knife and mince an onion. But most importantly, these guys got to feed themselves. And without referencing any crochet quotes about teaching a man to fish or being too cliche about helping others so they can help themselves, really, it's just real. It seems far more realistic for a group of people to sit around and eat together and chat than to sit in folding chairs around a circle in some basement and confess fears and frustrations. Sometimes it's good to get everyone involved. Maybe this is why Jesus brought food to all his gatherings and shared it. Just think if he had brought fish tacos.

Here's a simple pico de gallo recipe with apples that's great with fish tacos this time of year.

Apple & Avocado Pico

1 apple, cored & minced (Gala or Fuji work well and even Honey Crisp)
1 avocado, sliced
1/2 red onion, minced
1 lime, juiced
1/2 bunch cilantro
Dash or two of hot sauce
Salt, to taste

1. In a bowl, combine ingredients and salt to taste.

Here are a few tricks. Cut an avocado in half. Lay cut side down on cutting board. Slice avocado in half again. Peel off skin with your fingers. Slice avocado to desired size. It's easier to slice an avocado outside of it's skin. Also, with cilantro, hold bunch of cilantro in the opposite hand you hold your knife. Shave cilantro leaves with you sharp knife. Yes, shave cilantro. It's much easier to shave herbs like cilantro and parsley since you can eat the stems than it is with picking each individual leaves.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Autumn Hen

Trees surprise you. Across the street two maples, which I must have noticed in the three years I have lived here, yet perhaps ignored, suddenly glow. Golden, misted amber leaves with a hint of harvest grape green stand quietly behind my neighbors fence. So vibrant on this day of gray. Trees change, fields dull to muted shades, summer blossoms wilt and even my indoor furry friends get a bit furrier. Autumn arrives in medias res, to begin in the middle, in the middle of change.

Yet what about the chicken? What changes do they rely on to understand the coming cold, what harbingers of this season do they have? For example, this fine photo of our very own Polish Hen, whom I refer to as the Wandering Pole, knows nothing of winter to come. Sprouted this spring, her fellow layers and sister, Queen Louise the 15th, also know nothing of days kept indoors, hours of white on windows and the wind that doesn't stop for the domesticated. Chickens continue to lay, cluck and roll in now colder dirt, doing their chicken duties and doing them well.

We have six chickens and this past weekend while raking leaves and then putting them in their coop, the chickens acted grateful. They continued on with their chickening without any fear of cold winds from the north. We who have cultivated this animal for the past 10,000 years all for our own needs have failed to inform them or give them something to note the change in seasons. Perhaps knitting chicken sweaters is about as publicly insane as walking your cat in a sweater while on a leash. Sure we give chickens heat lamps as their own private sun during cold nights, but really, the poor bird is quite literally left in the dark.

Recently, I watched a documentary on the history of the chicken, which really could have been called "the stupid things humans do to forget they are animals". One such chicken lover in Maine gave her frozen hen left for dead mouth to well, beak resuscitation and brought her favored fowl back to it's chicken life. Another woman in Miami bathed her hen daily and believed her chicken was her soul mate, dare I say fowl mate. Regardless of the absurdity and extreme in chicken ownership, I do think about these little beings despite their bead of a brain need a bit more credit.

For regardless of an occasional molt, chickens are incredibly trustworthy and reliable creatures. Perhaps even loyal to their duties in producing eggs. Roosters have long been more than useful in time management and what could be more bucolic than a pasture with a few hens scratching in the background. From the practical to the artful, hens surely have their place. This place is usually side lined or in the back drop unless you have lived your life as Gonzo from the Muppets who was not shy or bashful for his love of chickens.

And so, it is the middle of the week and at the end of autumn that I want to pay homage to the spirited bird, which lives without expecting to fly. The underdog without even practicing a song. Chickens, you are the falcon of humble acceptance. Enjoy the poem.

Autumn Hen

September crowns each crest of larch with gold,

geese mold the sky and maple, with their hands

wave to the sun, waning the horizon red.

And the hen cares not for falling leaves.

Their bodies preen slow knitted winter

warmth as feather sweater. While your cider

skin, no longer bare, demands covering.

You try to hold the passing of your longing,

try to keep August as your private yolk

to feed off February fates. But you, more chicken

than god, season your days in dirt and grass.

You learn to quiet yourself by raking leaves,

your fallen heart, you cannot keep green.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

October Cosmos

I've started a new habit which involves Carl Sagan. After countless searches for small tidbits of daily aspirations, I found videos mostly from the early 80's of Carl Sagan. Sure, we usually associate this parka and turtleneck wearing scientist with earnest and larger ideas like the cosmos. But I started to dig a bit deeper into his lesser known clips on whale communication for example. I started listening more to his well enunciated speech and found moments of unabashed poetry. I even started to find myself mimicking his words in my head. But really, it's his enthusiasm for the unknown which struck me as something worth noting, something worthy. Something fresh in a world of handing out digitized facts.

But there will always be facts. The facts are, October is here. Here in Missoula, we have a few trees changing, enough for a midwesterner to feel a sense of the familiar. I often joke that I wonder where in the world is it autumn all year long? For the colors, the paling sun, the occasional warmth that feels so welcoming and really a gift before all the coming gray. We've had one of the nicest Octobers with a lot of warm days, so many that my cosmos (pictured first) stayed open and vibrant up until two days ago. Up until two days ago, we hadn't had a frost. The other photo shows how green our late summer into fall remained with all the August rain. And what does autumn have to do with Carl Sagan?

Carl Sagan seemed to have a desire for more questions, didn't quit with just facts. It's like his mind was an autumning of questions. A limbo of transition and wonderment. So often I flip through information like I am sure so many of us do only to land in a sea of facts on weight loss, facts on happiness, facts on better communication, facts on deals, facts on more facts. So much information to drown in instead of swim or even just a casual float with a view of stars. The internet can really drag someone down with web-entangled searches only to have spent an hour lost to the universe, lost to the god of wasted mental space.

But I must say, I am grateful for all the clips of Carl on the web. Watching Carl clips feels like reading a good poem. Sure, we know stars and the word galaxy or whale, but with Carl at the helm, it's usually a safe and surreal sail. So I want to share with you a great clip of Carl doing a whale song. The vulnerability seems present, but purposeful. I love it. Just Carl against the wind and the mast with his song of whales. It's like some ancient bard coming up from some sea to give us a hint of what is going on below. And maybe that's just it. Carl gives us a look into something we have known since birth, the moon, stars, seasons and the once report each of us gave on Pluto in front of our first grade class. We cut out planets and paper rings of Saturn, but it was during a time when we were open to wonderment. With so many facts, we can lose our wonderment, our openness, our body as atrium to what it beyond our computer screen. Enjoy the clip. Enjoy the poem.


I stopped believing in birds for awhile.

A nun said my heart was broken, before

I even started dating. A parrot

in an unlocked cage waits to start singing.

To mimic off-key is song, but not song

of yourself. Before the cross of Romans,

men followed the flight of swallows to build

temples as nests for their gods. But I can’t

live in city gardens, more poppy

along train tracks in Poland. I’ve learned

to field myself in countries, to rejoice

the potato is to see the pigeon

as dove. Divorce yourself from the body

as burden. You’re an atrium of love.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hill of Content

Summer somehow didn't find it's way to Montana this year. Perhaps the weather gods decided to give the good people of the Western Rockies a taste of why many of us moved here, for the snow. Snow in June, snow for July and even snow on Labor Day eve. Yes, the white behind me is indeed freshly fallen, but I feel I should give this peak a chance. It's Trapper Peak, which stands slightly over 10,000 feet beaconing the Bitterroot valley just south of Missoula.

I've heard more conversations about the weather this summer than I can ever recall. Even more than than the summer when the temperatures never crested over 60 degrees along the shores of Lake Superior. The summer of 2004 in Marquette, Michigan when I wore turtlenecks to teach in and napped under heavy blankets while I stubbornly slept on rocks yearning for some warmth. But Midwesterners, if they complain at all, would say something about how it could have been worse that summer Lake Superior had ice during July. "We could have had 100% humidity, black flies, feral mosquitoes and tornadoes," to convince ourselves we were somehow better off with gray skies and cold winds.

But out here in the west, people don't exactly cry in public, but they do complain...openly. I don't have any Slavic or Nordic ancestry, but when people get heated up about lousy weather while standing around a fire at a potluck, I quietly stare at my shoes, obviously too cold for sandals. My midwest inner nasaled voice thinks, you people are whining, aren't you embarrassed? I still cannot believe someone can openly complain and actually not feel guilty about it. It's just a mind twist for me. Isn't anybody going to say, "well at least it hasn't snowed in the Missoula valley this year?" But they don't. Nor did I. I just kept quietly talking to my internal midwest voice while focusing on my boots.

And really even during the wettest day of August this year, I didn't complain. Mostly because I was too busy exploring the Western Rockies to be bemoaning. Luckily, I had some visitors to take up hiking in Glacier, some mountain bike riding in Sun Valley, a too quick trip home for swimming in Lake Michigan and even wet suited river days down the Alberton Gorge. Summer happened, but it just didn't look like what the good people of Missoula wanted or more specifically, what people expected. And so with this cursor as my witness, I can write, I've been really happy this summer. Mostly because I didn't really have any expectations. Maybe I am turning more Danish than just a midwest transplant. Or maybe I'm just learning how to climb the hill of content(ment).

Let me explain. If you'd like a far better explanation, then watch this video.;photovideo. Or listen online at NPR's podcast about the study of not just money, but happiness. According to numerous studies by both economists and psychologists, Denmark is considered the happiest nation. Yes, these herring hungry blonds are surrounded by healthier Swedes and richer Norwegians but they are actually happier. Why? When their weather is pretty glum and their greatest claim to fame Dane after Hans Christen Anderson would be the prince of doom and gloom, Hamlet. So what really makes Danes so happy? (just in case you don't have time to read or listen to either story, let me sum it up for you.) Danes have a sense of contentment because they have realistic expectations. And furthermore, contentment is not a weakness in their culture. It's a goal.

But where in American culture is contentment valued? Where is the glory in being happy with what you have? What are we to do with the American Dream now that we've worked so hard to never be satisfied? Take it from me, someone who has spent more time believing and working at life is elsewhere and probably better. Contentment is really more of a mind twist for me too than complaining about the weather in public. What's my back to school essay, "what I learned this summer?"

Let's start with the greatest albeit fictitious Dane, Hamlet for a starting point. To be or not to be? To be or not to be, happy? Sure, go into any college library and you'll find more criticism about this clause than probably any other in the English language. It's existentially dense. And I would imagine a clause we ask ourselves in some form or another, everyday. True or not, but what is fascinating is that the most crowded class at Harvard is taught by a psychologist titled, the positive psychology of happiness. Students might be skeptical of all these self-help books, but they are certainly signing up in droves for some answers.

Personally, I don't have any answers. But I do have stories and poems. I do know this, happiness is as elusive and subjective as love, but there are concrete elements that psychological and economic researchers study and what is being taught at Harvard. If you don't have time to watch the video, then let me break it down to you. Happiness is having modest expectations. Danes still have ambition and goals, but humility and modesty are traits most associated with success in their culture. Perhaps even being able to except something as simple and as impossible as allowing the weather, well to just be, is having more realistic and modest expectations. Sounds too simple?

Today as I write this, it's gray and cold. Today, I look out over our front lawn and I see our white mini-van. A car I laughed at when my husband brought it home earlier this spring. There's nothing mini about this van, but it's everything modest. It's a great metaphor for contentment or in being happy enough with what you can afford. And frankly, I drove the mini van to Trapper Peak and it was great. And the weather at 10,000 feet, was better than I had expected. Here's a poem about modest expectations of happiness and as you might guess, mountains and mini vans. Enjoy.

Happy Enough

At first he picked me up in what his wife

left him. My fate to fall for a man who

drives a mini-van. At least he didn’t chew

his words, smell of olives like the last guy.

He arrived right on time, but when he tried

to unlock my door, it stuck. He swore

it was already funny when he drove

up looking like a carpet cleaner, tired

but shaven. And sometimes it’s that easy,

the awkward sexy moment when a man

offers his gloves in a hail storm, you fall

for him, his ill fitting sweater, uneasy

pause before speaking, the way one person

sees you like the capital of Nepal.