The Argument

by Kate Gaskin

Kate Gaskin

All day we were at it, not
bickering but cold, cordial, the way

you can punish without punishing,
thrush-tongued and bitter seed

of so much left unsaid, clamp-
mouthed as oysters. I remember

the time we lived by the sea.
Your parents watched the baby

as we drank cold beer in the fog
while the barges rolled in,

and, later, when the monarchs
flocked south in thick orange swells

if we stood still long enough
they stopped to drowse in our hair

as if we were tufts of milkweed,
though we could give them

nothing sweet. Those were the nights
we loved each other best,

by which I mean easily, the curtains
blowsing in, the ospreys fat

with fish, spitting bones onto the dock
through shrills of mating frogs. And now

this night, its pinched mouth
and sterile air, your shoulders not far

from where I lie burning to touch
you, even now, after all these years.

Last updated May 12, 2019