French Braids

While one hand is content to touch, admire
A balanced, careful weave-preserve for viewing
The beauty and the boundaries of desire—
The other hand is busy at undoing.
The quiet hand counsels restraint; afraid
To wreck the composition of composure,
It's wary of destruction just for fun.
The other wants to slip between each braid,
To tease apart the strands, let run, spill over,
Release, unbind, what was so neatly done.
Your urgent kiss decides which hand is played.
A gentle pull brings argument to closure.
Surprised, my hands attempt to catch your hair:
It falls the way the rain lets go the air.

The Swearing In of Calvin Coolidge

Plymouth Notch, Vermont, 1923

Strange, the postman's loud, insistent knock
(The nearest phone, in town, two miles away)
Which roused them out of bed at one o'clock,
Tired from bringing in the August hay.
And stranger still, two telegrams they read
By lantern light: official ones, and both
With urgent news from Washington, that said,
"The President is dead. Please take the oath."
But in Vermont—where even summer skies
Can whisper that it's time to stack the wood,
And every breath on northern air implies
You're running out of days to do some good—
No one would be surprised, or think it odd
To see a man look up and say "So help me God."

Both poems are excerpted from Too Much Explanation Can Ruin a Man, David Roberts Books, 2005.

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