Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Blessed memory

Daucus Carota, photographer unknown, 2006

If it wasn’t for that neural trick
no stories could make their way
from lips to ear, or from then to
now. I couldn’t conjure myself
at six, at ten, my heart open to
the queen anne’s lace and its
amethyst heart at the center of
the umbrel; couldn’t recall the
fear, the bloody wet ruby of my
skinned knee. Limping home,
crying for my dad to help me
after I fell off my bike. He was
there, gathered me up, cleaned
and dressed the wound, wiped
my tears. And now he’s neither
there nor here, he’s dust, and
the child I was tells me a story
I need to hear (of course he fell
short, of course, but it’s also so
simple and good—just a child,
bleeding stopped, tears dried).
Z"L, what’s written as we murmur
their names, our beloved dead.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019


Louis Daguerre, Plaster casts, Société française
de photographie, 1837

Ahead, approaching, some stranger comes
walking, loose-limbed and arms swinging wide—
that silhouette, shadow-play brushing a scuffle,
a soft shoe, a memory. Familiar, unfamiliar, the
stride—they grow taller, elongate, and I catch
myself, my self. It’s me, it’s my shadow blocking
the light, as liquid and dark as ink from the well.
My harbinger twin, spilling stories I can’t yet tell.

Monday, July 22, 2019


Reese Derrenberger, "Fig," 2008

The memory of sweetness, hollowed
out. It stopped me, as I bent to pry up
milk-sapped spurge from a fissure in
the drive (for what? it won’t save the
spalled concrete)—a ruin of what was
once a honey bee, its head excavated,
sightless, resting near a broken thorax,
an empty abdomen. When I went to
look again after weeding, it was gone.
I felt as if I’d misplaced a letter sent by
an old friend, then misplaced not just
the letter, but the empty envelope, the
blue-and-white Chinese porcelain dish
where I’d set it, that I’d even misplaced
the memory of paper sacks full of sweet
honey figs still warm from his garden.

Friday, July 05, 2019


Angelina Earley, "Vertigo," 2009

As I lay these words down I wish each
were a wooden slat bound up by strong
rope—maybe made from twisted vines,
or yucca fiber rolled into cord across our
thighs, across all the days it takes to make
a line long enough to find you. Each word
pierced for the rope, tied up and tossed
through the air, I’d watch them extend as
if they were my own hands arms spine ribs
stretching out to you, towards a place so
wholly unknown. Listening to where they
catch, to where we each tie up, both of us
at the end of every arc of our single stories
now suspended and made new, as we both
place our trust that these words will hold
us safely until we can hold one another.

Sunday, June 30, 2019


Diego Delso, "Geysers of Tatio, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile," 2016

My footprints have been swept clean away
by the wind. Do I know where I am? Yes,
I know. I am here. I am lost.
And the sun
is high in its arc, its shadows cast black as
pips on white dice, the dice I tossed when
I set forth, Audaces fortuna iuvat. Mouth
as dry as the scree on this downslope. I
wonder, now, if Virgil made a bleak joke
in giving those words to a man who loses
and dies.
We all die. In dying, lose touch.
The talus slope underfoot shifts, slides—
and I lose touch with where, how I began.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019


John Rusk, "Trillium chloropetalum," 2014

Darkness is almost absolute in the understory.
Here, where I don’t cast a shadow, where the
Catherine wheel of needled branches breaks
the winter sunlight on its way down, bleeds it
of warmth til it’s frayed and pale as mycelium.
Near where summer’s wildfires stained our lips
with tarry soot, made it impossible to speak.

But this is how we’re born, from this darkness.
Juncos tell me seeds have burst their jackets so
they must fly towards higher ground, the rising
wind lifting them like samaras above the earth,
away, away—and here, love, the understory’s
long night is now starred with white trillium, a
scent that pitches me headlong into bud-break.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019


"As Earth spins, its shape is slightly flattened into an ellipsoid, so that there is a greater distance between the centre of Earth and the surface at the equator, than the centre of Earth and the surface at the poles. This bigger distance, coupled with the rotation of Earth, results in the force of gravity being weaker at the equator than at the poles."

The shape of the world: pushed down
by its spin, “a flattened ellipsoid.” As if
a potter’s wet hands, while centering clay
on the wheel, let the rotation take over,
as if they stepped away to get a fresh cup
of tea, as if the spinning clay gathered a
wisp of the earth’s magnetic field to itself—
a cloud condensing, a blanket against the
solar wind—and made an atmosphere.
As if the potter returned as a goddess, a
geologist or mathematician, the maker re-
making, remade by the shape of the world.

Friday, March 15, 2019


Takeuchi Seihō, Spring Snow (Shunsetsu), 1942

The crow with a broken primary feather limping
up the drive, angling for a cheese cracker. Or the
neighbor’s fat chickens, bringing death to grubs.
A week ago, two puddles of thickening blood on
the porch; later, while weeding, I saw a sack, no,
the pink hairless remains of a rat, under lavender.
I’m tangled up in other people’s stories about the
end of things. They’re frayed, threadbare stories,
having no crow, no chickens, no grubs, no rat, yet
they nettle me. Lilliputian thread, cobwebs from a
dead god’s crypt; I shudder as they brush my face.

Monday, March 11, 2019


"Artemis of Ephesus." Statue from the Amphitheater
of Lepcis Magna, photograph by Marco Prins.

In early spring, the white flowering currant. Artemis Ephesia,
egg-breasted Lady pale as the moon, as the marble under
your lost paint, when bud-break came, did your followers
sit at your feet, drowsy as bees in torpor? I lean close, bend
towards the pendant blossoms. Couldn’t be indecorum in this
wet land, it’s the same sweet scent as blood-red sanguineum.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019


(OvO), "The trees have eyes and they've
gathered to watch our fleeting lives
," 2013

My gaze, beloved, doesn’t hold fast any longer. It
flickers like a hummingbird’s tongue, nystagmus
kissing the snowdrops as I bend to look close, so
close extra gravity tugs at me, softens the ground
underfoot. I catch myself, widen my stance but it’s
too late, I’m set down in mulch and mud, breathing
in what the wood chips exhale—lignin, resin, vanillin,
my nose in the book of shredded trees. It’s a blur,
this life, rising on the wind, falling at moonset, and
I still look to touch it mid-flight, to steady my gaze.