between sky & earth the mouth
perches its heavy want
its slick parables so far from
the fingers actual agents of ardor
i mistype poem as pome
from the french pomme de terre
apple of earth the earth
in the mouth my tongue
clutching the word sky
as a shovel turns over dirt
as the sound of dirt hitting
a casket the grief
of speaking what must be
made known & never
understood how else
do we get closer
with what fingers fail
to grasp time’s dissolution
childhood’s petrichor her ochre
hair o are you
the apple’s skin or the reflection
in the skin let me address you
fully as i should have from the start
as i know you void-throat
tell me is it true
waking in you is like walking
in an orchard where all prior
is heard but only from
a far opaque distance
a radio’s underwater garble
tell me am i doing this right
after Lisa Russ Spaar
NOCTURNE w/ LILACS & RAIN
Before rain, we steal lilac cones from rich peoples’ gardens
one at a time until they make a bouquet. We go to bed
with feet the color of crushed blackberries, small stars
of broken glass kissing our soles & dream. As we dream,
it rains. Rain trickling off lilac cones like your tongue
lying limp & fat with sleep. Your tongue snug
in your mouth, next to me, & mine in my mouth.
Does a lilac like to smell itself? Is that its version of dreaming?
An unlit cop car slinks down the street, scuttling racoons
from their feast. A racoon in rain can smell like lilac, will sleep wet
curled among its sisters like a tongue among its teeth,
like bills in a mailbox. If our roof caves in
it will be because we sent the bills back
with a recording of rain inside, as if to say,
here, listen while you sleep. Hear the rain
touching the ungodly world as if this was its sole purpose.
A tremulous tongue, inventing desire.
LIKE THE SHADOW OF A WING
I too have stared at the stars & found it hard
to believe them indifferent. Who are we
to say we are new? & isn’t it like this:
not what’s discovered but what’s been known
& forgotten, despite ourselves. Despite saying
“I want to remember this.” The cold leeching
up my leg, my father’s black shape
moving away through the snow, farther
from our fire ring, across the latticework
of trees. Our necks craned in wonder at the sky.
Was it this, then, the first prayer? But already
he moves further & further away from me
& I have forgotten how to move. Where,
a moment ago he traced them, constellations
fall apart like wet paper. Like the body
of the rabbit we saw yesterday slip
from an osprey’s talons & tumble to earth
with a gymnast’s grace. & isn’t it like this?
The soul falls catches on itself keeps falling.
How when the darkness comes it passes over you
like the shadow of a wing. Soft as the inner thigh
of a rabbit.
we’re retracing our footprints through the snow.
Already the light has moved on. Already
we’ve arrived back at the fire, already
I’m forgetting everything.