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Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Stalking

Red-Spotted Purple Butterfly, Jay Bock

It’s those little deaths piling up on my doorstep
that break me down. The mud-stained yellow of
a magnolia warbler, eye half-shuttered, one wing
broken and spilling bones; the now unreadable
parchment of what was once a house gecko. All
these small wild things stilled, and no witnesses
save for butterflies who’ve come to sip what’s left.
I’m fit for sadness small enough to carry in hand,
but know bigger grief waits patiently, stalking me.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Heat Lightning

"Heat Lightning near Louisville, Kentucky," B. Badgett, 2010

It’s five in the morning, and I’m moving through the
shadows in shadow by touch, unsteadily scuffling with
small ravines. A ghost – its spin axis a pale torso – drifts
past, trailing a sound like brushes on sand, gleaming for
a fraction of a second in the glint and shudder of heat
lightning. Storm’s so far off I can’t hear it, but it’s close
enough to press its gold coin into my eyes as it passes.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Tenderfoot

Sweat like nettles where I’ve chafed, the pointed burn
of a fire ant unhappy with my position in life, a rebuke
after dinner: I’m so thin-skinned, tears abrade as they
well up, sting as they dampen my cheeks. It’s the heat
of the day, of some moment clinging to itself, you say;
but I know it’s the broken shards cutting underfoot after
we brought the hammer down on this shell of a world.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Havdalah

The damp air becomes a spicebox as I walk between
floods. The smell of rotting Johnson grass, retted blades
waving from beneath piles of brush like some drowned
Ophelia; the last star jasmine, sweet overlaying petrichor;
the ammoniac smell of bats under a bridge. In this way
I navigate between the sacred and the mundane, nose
twitching, moth to the flame shining on my fingernails.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Mountain

There’s a mirage along the far edge of the playa, and I’m slowly walking
towards it. I measure distance in time here: the weeks since I started,
how many more weeks to travel, as the skin of the alkali basin crackles
under my feet. The moon sets, and the air drops its furious heat into a
thermal sinkhole. Now I can see it, the tilted uplift lined dark on dark
by the absence of stars; the mountain still weeks away, still months tall.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Laughing

Trumpet vine bowers drape the catalpa in
emerald carcanets, lustrous and wet with
morning dew dripping on scuffed sandpaper
footprints in crushed pink stone. Look up!
Blue on green, jays flit and preen, laughing.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Mammatus

By Craig Lindsay (own work), via Wikimedia Commons

The multiplicity of succor within a storm, if you remember how to
tip your gaze up and back into the rain. Artemis Ephesus of clouds:
not the Untouched Huntress but the All-Mother, many-breasted,
pendulous, thirst-slaker. Those who study the surface things say
she was born in steep gradients in moisture, temperature, wind
shear across anvil cloud boundaries. An unfortunate reduction of
complexity, I think. Are they afraid to name her fecundity spanning
time, her bronze and marble idols, her uncanny gray-green skies?