Four Poems

In the Teatre-Museu Dali
Figueres, Spain

Three friends, in various states of marriage,
             walk the inner sanctum, circled 

by golden figures. Everywhere          the breasts 
             of Dali’s wife. A man leads another 
                          with Down’s Syndrome 

down a spiraling staircase. We silently follow. 

We search for the melted clocks, find them       finally 
             in tapestry high above a perfectly-made bed

guarded by a golden skeleton. We three whisper 
             of our own unmade beds.

             The loving 
                          of a person might be what
             saves us from the endless desperation 
                          for living. 

The Dreaming Woman

You are not an injured angel, side bleeding.
Not a muscled demon, finger curled. Just a man
who had the beautiful hands of Jesus.

Oh anti-miracle. Oh blind hunger. 
What freedom is a yesterday unfinished?
In my mind we become two swirling insects.

I’m impaling myself on these thoughts.
As if the act of thrusting myself on your memory
would force you from my blood, my cells.

Forgetting is spinning the globe backwards.
I pile the memory pieces of you on a plate.
The dishwasher won’t close. The water is cold.

Fifteen years and I’m translated into an unknown language.
Fifteen years and the water that touched our hips
has circled the globe. It waits for us near Malaga.

Do you taste older? A certain shade of gold?
Gold pears, cheese gold with the rind of living?
I hid your picture years ago and now the shoebox is empty.

Somewhere a branch brushes your shoulder. Under moonlight?
A tree drops her dampness on your cheek. The morning sun?
You are lost to me. A chair thrown in the ocean. 

I am a series of intentional accidents. 
Each day is a dry pine needle. I am filling myself 
with old tickets and olives and outdated calendars. 

Sometimes I lay with my cheek against hardwood. 
There is breathing in the wood; it enters me like a panting lie.
I would not misplace you again, would label your neck in black felt tip.

In Nafplion

We walk the fifty two steps down
from the pension between the brown 
and butter-colored buildings. At a small
table on the sidewalk, we drink 
lukewarm Nescafé, sweating already 
in the thick morning. The barista cautions: 
Don’t swallow the grounds. 
They’ll make you crazy. 

It is July in Greece, too hot, 
and we can taste the distant wildfires.
Before us, the blue Argolic Gulf, 
behind us the Palamidi Fortress. The future 
is empty tracing paper, the past 
with its thick lines. Silent old men sit 
nearby; their hands rest 
in their laps. What is crazy? A life 
lost to routine and work? Days melted 
into weeks and months with no 
lingering images? 

But now, this quiet moment, our sore
feet. The cobblestone, the wrinkled
faces of the old men—everything
is in golden egg tempura brushstrokes.
The absence of home is a mirror 
reflecting the shimmering ocean. 
The coffee grounds stick 
in our throat. 

In Avignon

the car is too big, the wheels scraping
against the narrow sidewalks, a sound
like the world’s trapdoor opening. The stone 
streets, the heavy doors of buildings, the sun
clinging to the air above the rooftops. 
The three women hold a ring

of three giant keys, special instructions
for sequence and turning, the keys 
like weird crochet needles jabbing 
at the door. A small woman peers out 
of her own door, her gray hair and eyes 
fluid as if she sees through their commotion 

to her past. The wine, the duck in rich sauce,
and the rigid mattresses force
these women to move as if underwater
but they travel together into strange 
spaces. They walk with empty arms 
into the city squares, to the vendors selling 
Santas climbing ropes, vin chaud, toys 

that move by springs and rubber bands. They want
their bodies back, such shameless desire
for everything. Now. They are transparent opals
tucked into pockets. Right here—thousands 
of miles. How far they’ve come. The old popes
are dead in their crypts, yet feet still feel
the uneven stones that line the insistent 

streets. Look, they think, just see
the way the elderly couple sits, each holding 
a glass of wine in one hand and with the other 
petting the panting dog. The women feel 
no fatigue, no sadness, just this December day 
in the bright square facing the setting sun, 
their old wounds closing at night, like tulips.

PAIGE RIEHL is the author of the poetry chapbook Blood Ties. Her poetry has appeared in MeridianSouth Dakota ReviewNimrod International Journal, and more. She lives with her family in Saint Paul, MN.

The Adirondack Review