En Plein Air
Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn
Eyes closed, so many people succumbing to the ground.
If only death were this easy. The monarch flies low, its
Shadow against a footprint. Warmth without wind, but
Clouds threaten, and night still brings its goosebumps.
Bathing caps, bobbing heads, arms like windmills by the jetties.
Kids splash until even with dripping hair, they duck.
Sand moves forward and back, the satisfying cold of hard
Packed ground that sinks under my feet; another cool wave
Moving earth. You by my side. In trunks I picked out
And those Aviators. We’re not married yet.
I always seem to walk in someone else’s footprints.
There’s a man playing music, and a couple tangoing
On a hill, their dance steps etched until water washes them away.
You take down our umbrella, and its points graze your face.
Thousands of moons are in every wave, white bubbles dissipating
As seashells rock, breaking into beach fossil. I ask you if I
Can take a picture of the dancers and as we leave the beach,
We see a man has painted us.
the names of flowers
is this a concerted effort, some parent—maybe
grandparent—when they’re young? this is a petunia,
this is—everyone knows lilac, tulip, rose.
the rest just mean someone loved you enough
to teach you what they thought
was important—what you'll need in school,
society, or while planning your wedding. could you
imagine knowing all the names of flowers, not just
the names of what you saw, contextualized as you
saw it: Bob's rhubarb plants, the mulberry tree that
left splotches of blue and purple on cars in the driveway.
the other plants I don't know. they are just images
in my memory without a name. deep purple
and intertwined like a vine…
Vanessa Ogle is a poet and writer living in Brooklyn, New York. She received her MFA from Hunter College in 2020.