Two Poems by Tiffany Higgins

incantation in a time of drought

                                                             Oakland, CA

as if waiting

for rain

 
I lean my nape

across
the night:

 
come morning, kiss-

marks
smooch cement

 
traces some

god has
visited

 

oh, but where?

 
above, full clouds hover:

ash quilt of continents
with silver thread stitched

 
pale cranes

over Port

of Oakland
 
machine beaks pick

and peck

loads from Hanjin
 
and muscles refuse

what is

not content:
 
(barricades, may
we go to them) (oh glorious)
 
meanwhile I listen
to Nara Leão sing

corcovado, a chuva
de tristeza

 

: rain of sadness
damps the face

 

oh, happiness, my love

 

oh, but where?

 
then, sun e-

volves to

dry the street
 
pale

grey
again

 

oh, no rain

 

(drought, my drought)

 

no rain

 

today

 


in the time of drinking dinosaur water

                                                             for California’s Central Valley Aquifer

you would like, you would prefer, you would like

a cartography of knowing, or at least

some kind of stone to hold               down

the floating
paper

 

of your

soul your drifting soul

you would like, you would prefer, you would like

in your drought-

riven lands

 
where to push limbs is to tenderize
one’s flesh under orange oven-coils of sky

you would like, you would prefer, you would like

in the night that scarcely cools and merely zithers
its parted lips across thighs

where I sleep

sheetless
exposed

 
breath of the beast who remembers

before my wan, thirsty people arrived

and doesn’t hesitate

to bellow me back
back against the torrent
 

of dry air

 
and I, who know not
storm’s catechism—

hear catch schism

whose tap tap tapping on absent
lily pads I keep calling keys

but which turn no lock
and turn back no rising seas

and aren’t I the ship stuck between the locks
waiting for water to heave her?

Don’t tell how we siphoned bottoms,
valley of plenty,

fertile fathoms and epochs

age of shale & Pleistocene
fled before our touch:

how we drank dinosaur water
like Coke and Pinot:

We thought—we said—
we thought it would

by miracle
regrow.


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