The truth is, there is no garden as deep or desolate as this one.
A man touches a woman, and the woman

curves her body into rich soil.
There's no other way to put it, is there --

the way a woman stares at the black boots and red lipstick
on a mannequin in the window of a down-

town shop. She doesn't know
at that moment -- moment of outward

movement -- that she's already given
herself away, like a bird

lifting off a telephone wire, then returning
to another place. And the man

standing behind her -- isn't he wanting
what he's suppose to want: beauty

that curls itself around him, makes him other
than the day with its many levers,

its art of cold speed and false direction.
Whoever imagined a city without doors or windows --

or billboards and lights that never dim.
Walk a block and you will see

the towering faces, the ready made glamour
and corner street vendors where smoke

climbs the air, as the smell of food follows you home,
and the brick and glass of so many stories

leans across your mind -- a voice inside whispering, Come on.
Why not? What's it gonna cost ya ...

Peg Peoples


To have lived is not enough for them.

I can't remember when I first saw them
gesturing under the trees and telling their stories
in order to know they'd truly existed -- their lean bodies
sheer as northern lights, their laughter crackling
like fire as they told their tales of survival: how one
had driven a team of horses up to Circle
rode for weeks through the Territories, then up
through the tundra with its herds of wind
and drifts of snow.

Of course, they don't hover alone in the north
who left the sand on your towel,
no one else in sight on the whole beach.
Even here, you can hear them
their cool hands lifting the paper off the sidewalk,
their breath so close you can feel its warmth
as you turn the corner of the street.
Like us, they want to go and stay
Why just this morning, I heard them tackling
an issue of the day and quoting
how travel through the system had been delayed.

Like us, their palms grow sweaty,
they wax emphatic or let their voices linger
on the dying air. And no, it wasn't long ago that I too
stood at a window, wondering where
in the world I should go. Under the trees
snow glittered, and I thought that I could see them
one dropping a wrapper, another stooping
to pick it up. Like us, they were languishing,
and thinking all the while, the moon is both beautiful
and dull.

Peg Peoples
PEG PEOPLES's poems have appeared in Verse, River Styx, Rattapallax, and other journals, and in the anthology Ravishing Dis-Unities: Real Ghazals in English. She lives and teaches in New York City.