In fact this hyacinth squatted on all the space
in the garden, left a tattoo of purple bleeding

into the air, where a palm-shaped cloud slapped

a print across the sky: No Vacancy. You check in
anyway, delicate and clean. You borrow the light


from the streetlamp to read about a crime.
The end comes like a curtain on fire, intense

heat disappearing into the conversation you had

years ago with your mother’s college roommate.
You argued about beauty, whether it is altered


by light and luck more than cosmetics or grief
and about whose kids were more successful.

When the fire flashed up, all appetite, afterglow,

there was no more to say, no epiphany
about that night, no sweet apology to the dark


forces, no do-over or rat’s nest or canine teeth
filed down to mimic politeness. The shift

was complete, the phoenix flew into the clouds

and mingled with a hippo and a chair.
You sit to think and nothing comes close


to the way your mind went around and through
Shakespeare and Donne, parsing the flatnesses

speckled with words that turned fugitive, turned

rust, and the clouds keep shifting. They alter
themselves. They look—briefly—so solid.