By Elias Baez

Volume XXXVI, Issue 3, December 13, 2013

Rock Climber

I used to stick my hands into the spider pits
that pockmarked craggy piles of granite
to grip a flaky ledge with my fingertips, each purple
as a ripe grape, and pull myself atop
the highest level of the rock, evincing
my urgent regency. My father
would grin from below, his watch-weighted hand
wrist-deep in his khaki shorts:
I was the fastest of his three sons.
I stopped climbing rocks when I moved upstate;
upstate had trees – star-grazing pines and firs
that would shiver snowdust in the winter,
white as my fogged breath – and none
of the oily black of a rock’s splintered mouth.

Proust Painted

A little yellow wall with green ivy
growing up along a crack where water
trickled deftly down, stained brown with dirt
and spiderlegs, the kind of muck
you wouldn’t want dripping from
an air conditioner or open gutter
into your mango smoothie, that light
orange stack of stained ice, the taste
of someone who once pressed their lips
with mango before they kissed you,
to see if you would notice.