Catherine Simpson is a cellist who lives in Santa Barbara. She has been previously published in the Big River Poetry Review, Right Hand Pointing, Spectrum, Step Away Magazine, and Into the Teeth of the Wind.
He came up to me while I was on a
Swing, at night, a dark-eyed young man
Smoking a cigarette. He, “I thought
I’d talk to the girl on the swing.”
His hair was as neat as a boy scout’s.
He told me about his girlfriend, his
Ex-girlfriend. I pointed my feet between
Constellations. I said, “I don’t have any
Love problems. I’ve never been in love.
Nobody’s ever told me that they
Were in love with me.” He said,
“I’m in love with you. It’s easy to say that
When you don’t know the person, but I’m
In love with you.” I said, “Well, I’m a virgin.
I’ve never even been kissed.” He said,
“I figured. You’re on a swing. How fucking
Victorian can you get?”
In the fall the row of grapevines
Are lit red with changing leaves, their
Hand-shape turning in on itself
With that autumnal collapse, and the
Shoulders of vines are yoked with grapes
And grapes, staining the air with a
Sweet tannin at night, when the sea-fog
Wends its way through the mountains.
The smell of salt and grapes and the
Burn of September grass-fires that
Redden the moon is so pungent that
It makes it hard not to take walks at
Night—that, and the clamor of
Grasshoppers rubbing their half-note
Songs of mate me, mate me.
A man without his shirt
Wafts down the street on his
Yellow cruiser—his belly
Distended, skin reddened, white
Fluff of chest-hair spreading down his
Navel, across his shoulders—
That is Santa Barbara, I thought,
A middle-aged man on a cruiser on
A Friday afternoon, the
Fat tires of his bike
Crushing peels from nearby orange
Trees into the pavement.