Every word requires a second language.
For example, there is no word for beauty,
though rivers are stories
about love, the plot of rafts,
I saw, glued-together by summer’d
under a winter’d disfigured bruise.
Of this language,
rivers are clear about this:
only bodies swim.
Only a body holds a promised land.
Only bodies drown, holy
as the river reiterating the river,
the blood, succinct, inside the wine.
I carried you inside me,
frozen river carrier.
But I leave ice to bury
the current it will bury.
I leave pines to stand for me,
fly their ancient flags.
I will let stones be stones,
feel their hold release
their million birds of silence,
their shadows lain in snow.
And when I learned that I cannot swallow you whole,
that I could only chip you back
into pieces of stone
and feed this river with them,
I learned how you swim back up.
Usually, your eyes come first
settle into another’s face,
and gaze at me like a billboard
to remind me of the life I lack,
while the rest of what they carry
migrate to another — except for
a wave of hair, which in its backwards glance,
mistakes me for the man
who did not swallow you whole.
The closest I ever came to a river
was thirst. It’s ok, love, I was always sad,
more or less, yeah,
from the beginning,
before there was even you. Sometimes
the river isn’t a river, but a flood deserted
by a storm. You get to know the taste.
You know it as soon it leaves you with nothing
to fill it with.
and near night
to die and lay
for it, or
of each place,
to enter earth
to take us
there, the bird