As if toward Beauty
Birch Brook Press, 2015
Art by Helen Febbo
In the wake of sleep they walk to where the mill run
runs through gnarly grasses, to where tomorrow’s cows
will clamber down, making water dark and wide,
making muddy puddles, which like little fears,
draw upon a larger water. They cross to where
the horses stand, heads hung down, leaning in
upon themselves. What would it be to ride, to nuzzle
flat against a smooth warm neck? What would it be
to jump the fence, to go where air grows deep? Beyond them
lies a curve of farmhouse and its stubbled field,
and in the field a fox, high-tailed, alert, stands soft
among the brittle stalks, listening for a mouse,
aiming at a sound. And overhead there is
a filament of moon, the best of all the moons,
partial and complete, beyond the reach of ruin.
A letterpress edition by Birch Brook Press, 2011 (a second printing in 2012)
Art by Helen Febbo
Myself am hurt. I bleed
the shy in me.
Not a scab
to pick, but sea
I cannot lean across.
Child is best.
Will it remember
me no more?
But the lava moves,
its pale taste
not yet worn,
on the tongue
and belly stung.
Recently Published Work
published in Salamander, spring/summer, 2016
See the ink below your knee. There
your veins were mapped and quarried. The line your groin
defines remains intact, smooth like timber,
the timber of a ship, a Viking ship,
long preserved before its harvesting.
Notice now your penis, folded round
a catheter. Here alone is faithfulness,
the glory of the young, the appetite
and joy of age, the arc of golden pee
beside the road, beyond the car.
Your pelvic skin is bruised where several soundings,
tunnelled deep into your vascular
geography, the femoral artery,
the aorta to its great divide.
Here they found things out, put things in,
took things out. Here they scraped the sides,
releasing clots, clots that spread throughout
your body in a sudden surge, children
sprayed and scattered by the vigor of
a hose, or Chopin racing to the end.
Now see where the fortress of your chest
was broken, sternum cut and folded back
to make a place for work. Those intruders
are all gone now. Glue and wire have fastened
back together bone and fat and skin.
This line’s to your jugular, where meds
and anesthesia go. You looked forward
to that sleep, whatever sleep it is,
to forget a while, to lose so small,
so small a piece of time.
I touch the tube that’s in your nose. It carries
food, passing by your mouth, your tongue,
esophagus, and stomach, slipping food
directly in your bowel. You do not taste
or swallow. Your stomach never feels its force.
You cannot speak, you cannot sing or whisper.
A breathing tube is in the way. Your voice
was soft enough to bear the weight of joy,
deep enough for praise. It kept alive
astonishment of being, silenced now, and sealed.
Your eyes are closed as if in sleep,
where age no longer matters,
in the leisure of a summer day,
someone else’s laughter,
someone else’s day.