I will need to change
my life again. For this
woman, how she leans
on the black chair,
as if she had always been
a girl. The dry creek of
the naked feet, both have
together from a shallow river of sun.
And spearing through
her hair, a birthmark,
like a reflection
of an arrowhead,
leaf bruised with cold,
but pale, as if
she had been painting,
in case winter
was coming again.
I wonder how others feel love.
Her, under that streetlamp,
fallen snow in black hair, like an infinitesimal
constellation of wounds, then tears, like bright new worlds?
And, me, unmoving,
the sidewalk scouring her into spirit,
her bootprints quitting the path?
Do others wonder, when the day scissors flesh
into shadows, that hers swims too darkly to be unskinned,
or is a scrap of soul blind as an eclipse.
Like me, do they wear, threadbare
with regret, the coat of that night sewn
by moths of its snowy incandescence?
If your name’s Nick, does it hurt
to have a nickname? Is it strange that fire,
which can’t be touched,
can bring feeling back to hands?
Why is there no word for beauty?
And, along the same lines,
why is certain wood called Ash,
long before it burns? You would think that love
could at least let itself be held
(yes, you, backwards magnet),
like the bundle of firewood
I carry in my arms,
ready to give it up for
its revelation of warmth.
I see how the low fox trails,
like sister currents,
cling to the pauses of
and in them, my heart,
tired of its flesh,
my tree-and-snow country
leading away from the down commas
that blot the seat next to me,
leaked from a winter coat.
Your dark hair for a moment
flutters cross your face.
But Crow finds her branch,
sees all. Snow sewn into
the black trees. White
in the eyes of a forest.
The wind plays
at being startled by my presence,
and rakes my body for wishes
my eyes have made, the silver cravings of
two coins. It is falling head
over heals to carry you over dirt,
follows as I walk across Macdonell’s Field
until peering into the Mennonite well,
I see into the neck of the heavenly earth,
and the bare brown trees circling
our extinct sun. And in each step, the ground waits
to feel what it must give into next.
What if a word could breathe on its own,
or swim in a pail which we would draw up,
and shining, coldly, let us drink from it?
Your body in darkness lives another life.
It mists the window of your room,
lays out the southerly transmigration of dreams.
Breath writes there, trails of sleeping flesh.
So, when you wake, you will think of birds.
Lips will hum the missing words.
Thursday evening the dogs run ahead
through the unraked cheeks of leaves. I’ve let things stay
and circle around too much. I’ve lost the air
for other things. The drive into the city for winter tires,
the tail-lights that need repair, the brakes
I’ve been riding too long.
I stand here at the door
a little while more, and let the dogs
feed scraps of barks into the breeze.
I suppose, to them, its seems alive, shuffling along,
casting out and resurrecting the dead. But dogs
shouldn’t dream. Night’s here, the week is ending.
In a few minutes, winter returns.
One feels nothing
when the first days of November
arrive to fill in the wind-scoured constellations of geese
or to carry away
the sour mounds of apricot,
October peeled away.
where do the deer sleep here,
wake, cut away
under the grey trance of sky
when the blind car unzips its haste down
the threadbare road revealing
crops of still life too ingrown for
decay and that crisscross beneath
the unspoken snow,
yet to make landfall.