I hate it when things spiral out of control, and it’s not even happening to me.

The Naturalist’s Last Love Poem
Ashley Anna McHugh

Nothing on earth
can last forever.
It’s become an art:
rain and the river

cut cliffs. Cold swings;
leaves fall with fervor.
Birds molt: their wings
lost feather by feather.

By increments,
tides slink like fever
from shore. Immense,
they drift out further.

So, when she leaves,
the world’s small favor:
I’ll forget, by degrees—
if over and over.

Monday rains and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

The Unquarried Blue of Those Depths Is All But Blinding
Ashley Anna McHugh

       for John Fogleman

There are some things we just don’t talk about—
Not even in the morning, when we’re waking,
When your calloused fingers tentatively walk
The slope of my waist:
                                 How love’s a rust-worn boat,
Abandoned at the dock—and who could doubt
Waves lick their teeth, eyeing its hull? We’re taking
Our wreckage as a promise, so we don’t talk.
We wet the tired oars, tide drawing us out.

We understand there’s nothing to be said.
Both of us know the dangers of this sea,
Warned by the tide-worn driftwood of our pasts—.
But we’ve already strayed from the harbor. We thread
A slow wake though the water—then silently,
We start to row, and will for as long as this lasts.