Cate Lycurgus

There Are No Garbage Days


Tonight she’s punching down the trash
                 into its stretch-marked sack—cartons, tea bags, gilt
Q-tips, sculptures of magenta lint so high we must be nearly

naked, sweaters nearly spent. I watch her clip
                 each six-pack loop to Cs so when they wash
to sea, bottle-nosed dolphins won’t go for tuna, get Coke

choke-holds—instead, I’m seized by her
                 intention with what most throw away, what joins
our ocean vortex of debris: nets and foam and traffic cones,

rotating, clockwise, with plastic bags that sigh
                 like bloated jellyfish, balloon and churn,
become a great pontoon. What’s tossed is all we have to cling to:

two magnetic Cheerios pitched out
                 with browning milk; tubes of clotted
Coppertone; afternoons, huge drums of fuel exhausted

through the turn-around, there for pick-
                 up duty; spider-legs of tungsten tinkle
in their bulbs on nights we fall as limp dogs to hard sleep—

the lights burn as we drift off, won’t cut out
                 on their own, so luminous instants
waste. We lose them to the gyre, widening, can’t ignore a mass

like that—before long, thirty years have slipped
                 down a bay-bound drain. She strains to lift
the sack to curb, trundle the bins, avoid their mystery drip.

Then heaves them past the oleander. Venus
                 dims. In morning, she remembers she forgot
to drop off one more thing. She does not make it quite in time,

so it perfumes all the week—and I would like
                 to tell you, mostly, of full diapers: softball buoys,
riding every wave. Though I do not know much of love,

one swelled every day.

Cate Lycurgus lives south of San Francisco, California. She is a 2014 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship Finalist, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Third Coast, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere.