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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Syrinx

Dust plume off the Canary Islands, by NASA

The wind makes neighbors of us all—music
from dry streets tamped by strangers’ feet,
from campsite radios, faint but overheard in
those Aeolian processes that lift a veil of dust
in North Africa, trailing gossamer above clouds
until sifting down, powdering the scrub oak in
Texas. Ash from wildfires lifts from the east,
stains our lungs west. Crackling alveoli, rales,
rhonchi sing overtones with each exhale: jet
streams kiss our mouths—a canebreak syrinx.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cape May

Image from Google Maps.

We spent the whole day at the shore, sitting
on the seawall from sunrise to sundown, the
tide moving out then back in, as if it had to
run an errand mid-day. At low tide, we both
scrambled down the concrete ledge to look
for treasure: dull polished bottle-glass gems,
broken clamshells scoured to fit our fingers,
a chipped teacup half-buried in wet sand.
Later, at night, on the thin hotel room bed,
I felt the waves still moving within my body,
lulling me to sleep, carrying me out to sea.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Migrants

Frank Carey, Fort Union Cistern, 2011

It’s a dry season. My love, that limestone cistern
can’t store enough to see us through—there’s a
hairline crack, and it’s seeping. Frogs pluck songs
from mud near the crack, soft plectrum chirps,
singing “Cheer-up, cheer-up,” but I just can’t. I’ve
watched the sun beat them down into deep burrows,
turn what’s moist into a brittle tomb. Even snakes
are leaving, exits marked by acrid, cursive trails. It’s
a dry season, and it won’t end—the only thing left
is to walk through scrubland, to the edge of the sea.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Surfeit

The redbirds chit as they chase overhead—
dun-blush girl, blazoned boy. I was up before
they were, scuffling by a harvestman legging
his way (home? to hide?) and listening to my
breath. A jay, a jay yells and drops a feather
at my feet, then laughs: “Made you look!” To
begin under an ink-stained moon as crickets
and peepers shimmer, to end sweat-soaked,
breathless in gold light? Dayenu, surfeit of joy.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Summer Dirge

"Shrine at Covered Wells, Arizona" by Tillman

This bright forge has burnt my heart away.
My thoughts all charred by the sun, calcined
ribs crack as I breathe: too parched for tears,
I’m gutted. And look! Even in a grave, no cool
shade—it’s bleached by the white, hot sky.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Croton

We scrubby little things who do well
where it’s scraped earth and caliche
nod to each other. A squat of prairie
tea, a dash out then back by a spotted
whiptail lizard, a bustling caterpillar
hunter (Calosoma affine) as black as
the night I usually wander in, and me,
moving through the understory, the
slightest wind carrying the croton’s
homespun incense: resin and dust.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Iftar

Photograph by ESO/B. Tafreshi, 2012

This is the time we break our fast, when
the sun at last weakens and the waxing
moon rises. I reach into clouds, part the
darkness to take you, o pearl, o moon, in
my hands: an illusion, but your light on
my fingers is no less precious. The first
thing we must do in the dimming is to
slake our thirst; after the long burnt day,
I could drink the mountains dry of dew.