Then you appear. As if all I had to do was wait. Like that bird
On the bow shimmering new from flood. You
From that storm smoothed bright with rain.
Sinner sinner me, I sing, shining in your grace
Oh rain rain rain come again another day.
I like to say we made love with the tongues of angels
And left behind unmade shrouds, left untranslatable
Like creases disappearance and invisible leave.
But my heart was the sun then
And it took you in, and burned you into memory.
I eat away hours on Facebook.
A show about unicorns on TV.
And profile pictures lined up
like eggs on the door of an open fridge,
closed-mouthed about why I’m there.
Bare – the trees winter by the
creek, plucked naked and
shorn to antlers,
still as the hunted.
The creek turns its face away,
gaunt and stricken, the
italics of cracked lips
inflecting a fracture of silence.
But it is hard not to stare, and look for words.
Crippled limbs are wound-up like treble clefs,
clenched on knuckles of stone. Crabs
hibernate between them like spring bulbs
Will they rise, open-throated,
pulsed with the green fire that sweeps
the forest’s plumage? Is there a way to know
the words for their hard-worn songs?
Excerpts of snow moss the creek’s edge. On
the ice, the sky crawls like a reptile. A fossil,
the creek is hardly moving. Except
for the silent year that rings inside the stands.
I watch as my son
on the tongue of
stirs his feet over
that tease their
the underworld, who
rise up to feed
in his country
of dance and shimmer
to plunge for a time
in the ocean
of his world.
I am a dog that reads the glowed ellipses of air
dissolving from your lips. Your mind’s singing
with the radiant hum of a car’s window and in the
‘flatland’s remission of light’ coming into view
like a dying sun, you said, ‘I uncover the paths
of descent, as I descend.’ This is what held each
of us silent, and breathless, and for you I
remembered, wrote it down because the because
words are finite, but their cadence is everywhere:
the drizzled scent of the half-burned roots we pass;
these rocked squarings unsettled and splinted, and
the dead workhorses turned-over in the unfinished ground.
And because no one, love, speaks like this.
I am a dog that chases voices in wires to see them
become birds, so look at me, love, and tell me a dog
doesn’t hope, this old dog that looks at the world sideways,
the storm that day that appeared out of hiding
so we were caught under the taste of its hunger the way
one smells the cool air of hail christening the hull
of the world, and the sky crumbling under foot,
passing away before one another’s eyes.
I am writing it down, to say maybe this time the world
He excises her from the photograph
though leaves a pair of woman’s sunglasses
on the table, a small purse
- surely, it must be empty, and spent -
as if the young man smiling in the picture is waiting
for a stranger to return
to claim them. Also a blond whorl of hair
is uncut near his shoulder, but only
for the arthroscopic eye.
“Couldn’t remove it all,” says
the grimacing doctor. “It can always,” he adds
And he agrees, of course, already itching
a weight that is empty and humming
across the broad and softening blur of
his shoulder bone.
I’ve decided to trust in the fanciful accounts of birds,
the creeks’ ta-ta-ta’ing from the nearly-hidden places.
I’ve decided to drink from the child’s hands,
their small jars of dandelions and cirrocumulus seeds,
like secret breaths that cup my ear.
I’ve come upon this empty-handed. There’s nothing
to take. Even the leaves of sunlight that flicker on the
outstretched parchment of trees fall away into night.
Things grow missing, after all. After all, there is only
so much one can take, before something gives.
So, again, how is it that I can breathe under this mackerel
sky and take in to my lungs this day that remains,
me, a thing here lured by territories of love, their ungainly walls
glimpsed in the distances of sea birds and curling away
against the gusts of blurry archipelagos?
At twenty-one red was red and the woman
was a fish whose slippery lips and painted tongue
showed my mouth her breathless language;
her wine bending streams,
her apricot rivers
the plum inland sea where
men like me traded for its spices,
plundered its opium.
She showed me how to take her small shoulders in my hands
and sail her naked swirls of front and back,
and rise with her as she rose, and climbed,
so that it pleased the sun.
Two storms boiling the lakes.
Roots muddying in roots.
And, red as salmon, fluttering
over my body,
she dove, disappeared and stayed.
But what on earth have you
gotten yourself into
what happened to the province
that held the mottled islands
in the rounding rivers below
and the wrens that plotted there
or slept in the contrails of providence before them
Where do they scatter in a sky that
surely must be falling
Now what shines with rhyme
their far cries of the world
trawling head first
into stems of rain
I am planted in the green shade of wind
Words straggle on the tip of the tongue
Leaves stutter on the twigs
Birches by the bright water startle
Weave the white lashes of the river
Progressing, retreating, repeating,
Unchanging all but the two trout in the
Stony shadows. My eyes fluttering
Hopscotching across the pebbled bottom
Reading the lines between the lines
Like a crab drawn wondrously away
Clutching the spaces that swallow it whole.