Books by Diane Frank

Isis: Poems by Diane Frank

In the Voices of the Birds

What I most remember about Christopher
is the way he knew the names
of all the birds
at dawn
by their songs.

His cornsilk blonde hair
blue overalls, no shirt
the strength of his shoulders
and the way we stayed awake all night.

There was light in his touch
between the birds.
They flew in and out
of his fingers,
and birds outside our window —
a window we couldn't
open again that way.

We met when we could after that,
in Iowa, Switzerland, San Francisco,
in borrowed cabins on two different oceans.
You took me to my brother's wedding
in a red pick-up truck,
made fun of the priest and our future
which you claimed permission to do
because you were Catholic.

I remember the way you hurt me,
what you said,
and the sentence I typed on your
portable Smith Corona in Nantucket
before I left
for the last time.

It was November,
with a light dusting of snow
over the sand.
The pebbles on the beach there
hid their messages.

On separate sides of the continent
we listened to different oceans
and slammed our lives shut —
you in Brooklyn Heights
with your two-year-old son
on your shoulder,
me in San Francisco
climbing the long hill
to 24th Street.

Twelve years later,
holding your first book of poems
in my hands, I am
hungry for memories,
hungry for every word,
hungry for any hint of a message
where I might find myself.

In the inscription, you write
"There are histories
in this book you may
be familiar with, because
you were there."

I am not the arms
where you will rest your head
when you're eighty years old,
but I always hear you
in the voices of the birds.

— Diane Frank