Heat Flow

Heat Flow

Press flannel-covered thighs against paint-flaked
corrugations, elderly radiator pulsing, hissing, unforced
steam clanking its way up and out.

Place clothes along scalded ridges, delaying that moment
of pointed pleasure, like draping towels dryer -fresh 
over bare arms, remembered shock of hot 
fabric's embrace (ancient comfort of heat). 

Push naked legs against a husband's tensile thighs, 
prehensile toes that pluck objects up with easy grace, 
caress and press skin and bones (animal comfort of heat).

Pretend to forget what should stay trapped blue-deep
in ice, chip-edged, parts whose throb will not stay buried, 
will beat and beat their way through, no matter what we do 
to keep them in the dark, keep them cold.

heat flow:  the outward flow of heat from the earth's interior to the surface

Confining Pressure

Deep within barren rock, your truths lie
buried, striated strands of dimming light

layer upon pressured layer, uncountable nights
together, desert-brushed pastels, dried gold-rose

life to which you belong, enfolding,
holding you pressed up against wavering stone 

edges bleached and blurred to comfort
that delude, do not deceive, cannot be breached:

ambient patterns of your choosing
you will never choose to whittle yourself free.

confining pressure:  ambient pressure equal in all directions, imposed by the surrounding rocks, all of which are under pressure from other rocks above.

At twelve you already knew why you were an atheist.
I was certain of nothing but that I'd gone 
months without a boy for a friend and wanted it back,

the uncomplicated mystery when holding hands 
was just a lovely place to put your fingers.

The year you were twelve and I one year older, 
nothing was easier or more joyful than lying 
beside you in the field behind our houses,

warmth on closed eyelids, 
clouds silent and slow,

and at night there was walking your dog,
her pale hips lighting our way.
Ring of Salt

It's just chicken with a ring of salt, she wrote, later sent 
an image of a carcass surrounded by a mountain range 

of silvery grains and I thought, But why?  What earthly 
purpose would it serve other than to make food unbearable 

and ward off all beings come to wreak havoc or spread light? 
Why else deposit salt mounds round?  Guardian angels 

or warden officials, the way the Andes Mountains 
ringed the city where I grew up.  No one passed 

the threshold of their eternal vigil.  
I remained intact.


Carole Greenfield grew up in Colombia and lives in New England, where she teaches multilingual learners at a public elementary school. Her work has appeared in such places as Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Amethyst Review, Humana Obscura and Dodging the Rain.