Holy in the Infinite


Honesty (13 September 2018)

I’m not good at this.
Starting again at the skin, tracing
the fault lines, the imperfect seams,
feeling the weight in my hand.

Maybe I’m just out of practice.
I’m pressing my fingers against
the cottoned down near the neck,
the blushing bloom of summer
the sweet sweating spine
searching for the smell I’m supposed to know,
looking for the ripeness yielding
the gentle give that indicates tenderness
of flesh, working my way in.

My nights are hazed with wildfire smoke
fever-formed, following soft the sun
I never knew you, I realize now,
I turned away from you,
though I have been writing you these letters
for years.
I brushed past your bruising, the places that gave
way for me.

Your name keeps me company
as I move through the morning.
Only the silence intrudes against my murmuring,
yielding to the splintering crack
of pit against the knife
Remember, I’m not good at this.
I cut too close to the core.
a slick of peach on the board.

Second Sister

Second Sister

Night comes mid-day and the second sister
waves her hand over the three children, spins her dark magic,
begs them to lay for a spell,
bare feet touching beneath the quilt.

She draws the blind on the dormers,
and moves to fasten the latch
against the impatience
that blusters and coughs, nagging to be let in.

She murmurs her invitation, but her husband
still thinks it’s summer. He’s tapping his toes.
He’s anxious to move on.
He kicks at the grass, the too-warm blanket, sighs and rolls over.

She lights the stove with her last trembling match
summoning him to lay with her at the hearth,
Wrapped in his scratched-canvas jacket, she remembers
missing snaps on the sleeve and his smoke-softened wool.

In the ragged split of winter,
stones they gathered together in the heat
feel fragile in her hand.
They could all snap in the cold.

In front of the fire, the second sister dreams waning moons
over the smoke-softened wool of tree-line.

Anchored Ship

Anchored Ship (16 October 2017)

I drift on the edge, unbounded,
watching him sleep in the thick,
clear navy shawl of midnight against

the pale moon of his face
the sharp darkness of his brow
angular, arrogant when he’s awake

I pretend to sleep when he stirs,
to not disturb his reach as he draws me in
anchoring me in the depths

I wonder, awake, how I could practice this
long obedience in just one direction,
How I could go out against the course

with only this one star to guide me
waiting, not wanting, in just one place
how could I hold myself here, stretched to the stillness

sunlight whispering, tracing its finger
along the pale, scarred skin of the beam.
And now the strangeness of the ambered morning,

The hollowness of the night moving on,
but this doesn’t feel like limitation.
I feel out to sea, indefinite, instead of brought to shore.



I’m not sure why I bother talking to the dead
as I watch the pot, never boiling,
waiting for the simmer to steam.
Every morning, as I sift grinds into the paper filter,
I go through the litany again, waiting for the response.
But it’s impossible to touch the emptiness,
to snap my fingers to get their attention,
to lift their gaze from their seat,
as if to wake them from their trance at the high window,
staring down to the street.

Could I be brave enough, foolish enough, to fake my own death
just to go in after them?
To abandon my well-lit stoop and front door
with the lock that clicks twice, once at the bottom and once again at the top
for extra protection from ghosts and strangers
that test the knob at night?
Would I be willing to slip pennies into my pockets
to pay the tolls across the river to see them again?
Are any of us willing to go too far into the deep to look for what we’ve lost?
Would I trade my own body, give the skin off my bones,
my own ability to touch her,
to watch her shift her hair from her eyes,
like she used to?

The hissing of kettle turns to howling, impatient,
and I’m snapped out of my trance.
A nod of the pitcher, the ritual of pouring
two, three times, pouring the way she used to.
waiting and watching the bloom
growing then dissipating behind the curtain,
aware of the absurdity of it all.
The truth of the matter is we’re all just south of the boil
just a wrong half-step from that pinch of the wick.
Our stories eventually become too big for our bodies, our most human restraints.
But there’s no point in chasing anyone down that rabbit hole
because we’ll always look over our shoulder at what we’ve left behind,
when we’re all headed that way.




I drove your car to your funeral,
my foot nervously tapping the gas,
trying to shift gears,
one hand on the wheel, where
your hand had worn away the pebbled leather.
There’s a handful of spare change on the floor and
your crumpled cigarette pack in the glove box, waiting.
As if no one had told your things that you were dead
and my foot edged towards the brake.

I didn’t believe you were dead until I saw you lying there, cold in the casket.
Your son played with your hair and it came
away in his small hand.
You were always moving,
always humming and crashing.
But now your stillness unnerves me.

You died, left us standing here, hands open and confused,
on the first day of summer.
A day not meant for dying by any standard definition.
But a day meant for laughter and picnics
for feeling the sun on your face after so long
in the darkness,
for running down Crescent Beach with your children.

I slip a stone, separated from its earth,
jagged in my tight palm, into my pocket.
No one taught you how to die,
but you managed it just fine, effortless, almost,
just like no one taught you how to be born, or breathe, or cry
out, or sing. We’re all singing now.
Funny how only the dead can make us
sing these days.

I took a cab to the train in the heat
your car left in your driveway.
The cab driver talking out the window
that was down and rushing
about the summer that wasn’t
letting go anytime soon
(more to himself than me).
but he mentioned that last winter here,
your last winter here,
it was so cold, the ocean steamed
where it touched the sky.

The rock in my hand, untouched,
forgotten for centuries
could shine like the brightest moon.
we place stones here to bury you
as we turn to leave,
to keep you beneath our feet,
to keep you permanent,
to give you back to the earth,
to know where we’ve been,
to keep where we set you down
set in stone,
as if I could forget where I left you.

Small Rain

Small Rain

I was grown
specific, stretched,
length of limb and suppled spine
to match your own

you were made in memory
you were created beneath my skin
changed from fog to form
rooted, tangible under my hand

if you should have a world
no matter how temporary
no matter how transient
let me roam free there

take off the bindings
that tie me to this world
pull me into this small rain
rinse the salt from skin

to which order of infinity will we belong?
because with you,
I am as wide as the night sky
I am without boundary

all the silence in the world
would fit in the palm of my hand
winded, a wild slip of sigh poured
from the tiniest of pitchers


Translation (5 February 2017)

maybe my native tongue
is a language
still unfamiliar to me.
maybe my poems,
maybe the words,
are just waiting in the wings
waiting for me to turn the page
and find them there.

but my silence can no longer be still,
my heart can no longer hold.

Maybe my language
is just my mouth on her back
with the soft flannel
of her sighs

under my hand
I can know the down of her skin
but when I go

to find a pen

the words stumble
to the corner of the page
and scatter

City Limits

City Limits

It’s always nice to think about
raising the dead
to find them again
tangible and deep.
but you come to find
that the earth has changed them
into someone
you no longer recognize.

because with you
I was as wide
as the night sky
I was without boundary

you and I
were without
the city limits
beneath our feet

Unknown to me as the fall
light slipping away for the season

I don’t have a beginning
a good place to start
there is no first word in my story

I hardly remember the
beginning of my own existence
my first lonely
cry in the night.

I could only tell you
the ending

I’m certain now
I wasn’t born for a prophecy
I wasn’t meant for a mad season of hope.

Should I go now?
Leave the memory of me behind
for you to find later.
for familiarity
is a feeling
reserved for someone
already lost.

if you should have a world
no matter how temporary
no matter how transient
let me roam free there

This Side of the Sun

This Side of the Sun

you were nothing but sunlight
a mass of nerves
and heat
turned to flesh beneath me
along my bones,
where you will remain
as I wear my shadows
on my skin.

Does my willful memory
hold you differently?
more solid beneath my hand
than you ever were
as if I had created a memory
from the thin dust
of summer.

And I wait
One hundred and seventy-three days,
turns slowly into
two hundred and seventeen days.

Trees moved to bone
lost their leaves
and I,
I’ve been shedding
to the earth
one loss at a time.

what’s next?
what’s near?
I write you this letter
to let you know
the lengthening
stretching days
are torture
when you are not here
with me,
on this side of the sun.

Spring has no use for grief.
She will never cry
for the heart left for dead
in winter,
nor lay her flowers
on the grave
of a love long gone.

It’s been unseasonably warm
these past few days
as if to trick the hands of time

to hurry you along
to my doorstep.

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