Margaret Chula


                                                    festive tree lights
                                                    on the eve of the solstice
                                                    two years ago
                                                    I placed a poinsettia
                                                    on my father's grave

                                                               weeks after the blizzard
                                                               dirty mounds of snow
                                                               and swayback aspens
                                                                 how long does it take
                                                                 for love to disappear?

                                                    twenty years later
                                                    I read my old copy
                                                    of Tanizaki's
The Key
what was so urgent
                                                    about all those underlines?

                                                                again distracted
                                                                while making breakfast
                                                                my husband's angry face
                                                                as he spreads marmalade
                                                                on burnt toast

                                                    past the age
                                                    for intrigue and longing
                                                    I spend the day
                                                    reading the diaries
                                                    of Heian women

                                                                all those birthday cards
                                                                tucked into my Thesaurus
                                                                over the years
                                                                tumble out into my lap
                                                                –so many words for "love"