Issue 13

Two Poems

 · Poetry

(T)here nor (T)here

what’s left: a body
whose absence
in creases

the need for a keepsake 
early in this century of doubting

was all this not already here?
hearts of hair, enamel black

err on the side of a fine paste,
a fading bruise, poultice stiff
as yellowed tape, peeling plastic

dissimilar, we dissemble
to survive sunburns

we outnumber our likenesses,
resemble our future selves,
re-assemble the old forms

if you’ve never been,
observe the posted notice:

only the dead want to keep secrets
the living want a natural bridge
across the confluence

any ecotone will tell you:
blending is a blessing

only the initial pass,
picked up for miles, and left melted
capricious debris

some music in our clothes
could but save
our capacity for error

there shall be no night there, there
in threadbare dresses the dead want to wear,
each stray an easy fix
unless you’re prone to wandering

Italicized text is from epitaphs found in Chatham Rural Cemetery (Chatham, NY), and from signage in Natural Bridge State Park (North Adams, MA).
The Sound of Them Loosening unspool this version of our story: each of the other threads will become successively visible, one by one I keep my name but recall my reclining limbs — bound angle opens, aches under your palms — unbelonging to the rent in this room I follow crooked signs to quarter-moons, pledge confusion to false constellations, promise you perpetual care * what’s the sound of a story being untold? an asterism, for instance, is no true coupling but “a star, or anything shaped like one” waiting to be renamed I declared your vows unable to bear much weight, any shape & here saw nothing to regret bare, the weight of you by my side rose satisfied and listing, listened: * lobe of the ear, of the liver, capsule or pod of leguminous plants lobe of the lungs, brain, heart; of glaciers, galaxies these all died in faith, in fidelity — to revive your auricle, stopper the hollow with my heartbeat, amplify the pacing to clear the distance between marvels sick of this mythology, overwhelmed by errata, embalmed by sleep, we find calm station never is a promise I’d like to breach fluorescence beneath a papercut sheet flickers licked loose and floating skyward you can’t imagine me staying still — I will prove you right

The title is from a poem by Izumi Shikibu. Italicized text is from Heimeito von Doderer’s The Demons, the Oxford English Dictionary, and epitaphs found in Spencertown Cemetery (Spencertown, NY).

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