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Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Fishing

Zāhir al-Dīn Ulūġh Beg Kūrakan, Souwar
al-kawakib al-thabita, Samarkand, 1436

A long arc of cirrus, segmented and fall-streak
spined: fish bones in a pale blue sky picked clean
by a westerly.

Later, as the sun tucks away: a fat fading contrail
flashes rosy as a brook trout’s belly.

Tonight’s waxing moon: a weight for a cast-net
big enough to catch all those star-bound fish.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Tare II

BRIyyz, "Graffiti covered car at Weyburn Pool,
just north of Weyburn Sask," 2006

The container’s empty. A barge, perhaps, or
a truck, or a covered hopper, the middle car
on the train that’s pinned me down behind a
flashing crossing sign. All these empty things,
still with their own weight. The heaviness of
emptiness, lessons for the mourner: the tare
weight, now, more than what was contained.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Chamaenerion angustifolium

Magenta-flowered fireweed, from "Boreal Forests
in Alaska Becoming More Flammable
," photo by
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The late afternoon
sun plays its kissing game with
their frilled corollae.

Each inflorescence
swaying in time; the south wind
waltzing blossoms, bees.

First to revisit
after the blast zone, the char;
reseeding this heart.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Padmapani

Hand of bodhisattva, holding a lotus bud with
blossom, Gandhara, c. Second - Third C. BCE

Broken at the wrist, the body gone—but
wholeness isn’t a steady state. All bodies
transform like this representation of god:
breaking, broken, vanishing bit by bit until
our mud and dust is compressed to stone
by the weight of time. Art turns that mud
into the compassionate one, still holding
a lotus, its grace moving, transcendent. I’ll
join those who set flowers and fruit at its
feet, offer up thanks that its beauty hears,
won’t be separated from, all our suffering.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Holy Saturday

Rembrandt, "The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp," 1632.

The shadows falling across translucent skin, shrunk
tight on a cheekbone. Shadows pool, lap at an arch
above it, hide in a hollow in the flesh beneath it. An
absence of moonlight, if painted. Absence of oxygen,
if cool to the touch; it’s lilac, not rose, in this garden.

In “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp,” every
man paid for their portrait, save the corpse. Money
and art made them memorable; money and art will
make us forget our deaths, even as we see its proof.
(Dear ones, at twilight we’re tidepools, not gardens.)

Money, and art. Still, there’s joy even in this sealed
tomb, in the unremitting absence of light. Tenebrae
performed in a room full of holy treasures: not the
gilding, or art, but the faithful who know how dark
the darkness will be, and yet keep singing, even so.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Nest

A few days post-fledging and it’s almost gone:
no longer a soft secret eggcup, just remnants
of lichen and down, emptied. One baby only
this time, not the hero twins Anna’s hummers
so often hatch. I saw it, tucked in its thimble,
needle beak pricking the air to catch mother’s
scent; saw the mother returning, her belly full
of slurried nectar and spiders to pour into gape-
mouthed baby. The mother returned, always
returned, until a day when no one was waiting—
the nest loosened and open as if in bud-break.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Haruspex

"In its large definitive Castle-series Italy issued in 2001 a stamp from Piacenza, and used an ordinary postcard for a FDC-cancellation. The card shows 'Il Fegato Etrusco' [The Etruscan Liver]. ... The Etruscan Liver is a 2nd century BC object originally used mainly for divination and now housed at the Museum of Piacenza."

In this body, I cannot see the full shape
of the sky, or see past the curved bow of
the ocean’s horizon. I’m as blind as you
are, as any of us are, touching each face
in turn to try and find our kinfolk in the
pile of dead. So I turn to what I’ve been
taught: how to take a living creature, kill
it in a way that will please any god who
still listens, and search its steaming guts
for a foretelling. The liver’s where to look,
but the one in my hands is smooth as a
glass mirror. All I can see in it is my face,
reflected, the color of wet earth; all I can
see are my hands, covered with its blood.