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Monday, July 09, 2018

Gorgoneion

Faye Wei Wei, "To prepare a face to meet the faces
that you meet
," 2017, courtesy Cob Gallery

I was searching for a word for this epoch,
our American anti-epithalamium, every
stinking breakage a muddy defilement of
our marriage bed—the marriage of polity,
one to another in community, neighbors
whose goodwill is now mocked, kindness
dragged half-naked from her home then
whipped through the streets. I dreamt of
the lexicon Sappho’d put under her pillow
to keep it safe from the outrages of this
present future—I’d like to weep; I won’t.

Instead I’ll find a tow sack and gather up
rattlesnakes, whisper the Gorgon’s name
to them, turn them loose, then watch as
every cheap imported Gadsden flag turns
those who’d break our bonds, to stone.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Catch

dcJohn, "ball and glove," 2005

The ball was as big as the sun and smelled like
glove oil, and leather, and fresh cut grass, and
I could barely hold it in my too-large mitt. The
sound, when it hit the pocket just right—a soft
cough of air; a single, hollow-palmed clap. My
dad, smiling, happy, playing catch with me. He’s
receding now, that memory pulling away like a
stagehand’s trick curtain, overlaid with news of
children who’re as old as I was then (maybe six,
seven) all sobbing for their mommas, their dads,
children tossed up into bright desert air, falling
among strangers in a nightmare game of catch.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Yardwork

As I soak the ground where the clay’s
packed tight at the trunk, loosen its
chokehold, soften it, a thousand tiny
black ants bubble up—this chitinous
fountain, ants clutching pale seeds of
larvae, bodies profligate as the tree’s
yellow blooms. The ants, as ordered
in their panicked disorder as the beat
of my racing heart. I shudder—they’re
hidden again. The afternoon sun gnaws
links off the laburnum’s golden chains
until they’re licked up by a north wind,
dust devil of petals spiraling. Drifts of
petals, gilding the asphalt as a fat bee
settles, dozes off beneath a leaf. If only
you were here to see all this with me.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Transparent

Thomas Howison, sketch of a gnarled and
fallen apple tree
, from an 1820 lithograph

My guess is, she was planted when the
cottage was built. Almost a centenarian,
neglected long enough that her water-
spouts were almost thick as her central
trunk; one low heavy limb snapped clear
off from the weight of her apples. That
was just after we’d bought the cottage,
before we’d moved in. She covered our
yard with windfalls; the cottage smelled
like cider for weeks, and it struck me,
how her generosity almost broke her.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Base line

Tom Gill, "Valley of the Shadows," 2013

Taking a measurement, in the sunlight,
before the rains come again. Unlike the
gentlemen surveyors who parsed and
parceled this earth with a Jacob’s Staff
and a Gunter’s chain, I frame my survey
by ear, by heart. Links in a chain pulled
tight—the base line the longest line in a
survey, made by our hands clasped, our
fingers twined until a measure’s marked.
Marked in loneliness past and to come—
the times when the chain’s folded away,
when shadows lengthen until we’re lost
altogether—this, my base line of love and
loneliness, scribed in the same measure.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Passers-by

National Parks Service, 2015

My mother didn’t see it, but I did—a
gray fox, tail tip black as the burnt pine
stumps we’d passed. It was hurrying
across the asphalt road, towards the
woods, stopped while we drove past.
A long look over its shoulder. It met my
stare with its own—yellow eyes in ash
gray (a gold inclusion in smoky quartz)
so feral, so present—and then gone, off
into its own day as we went into ours.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Cresset

skeeze, 2009

I’d like to forge one in the shape of my hands
to hold chili pepper suet-cakes (not fatwood),
keep the flame of a mating pair of nuthatches
lit. Or maybe cast a cresset in a lost-wax mold
from a whorl of grand fir branches, bracketing
a wildfire with iron needles that’ll never burn.
Beauty made to fill with heat and light, like us.