What wounds, what overgrown fields and blunted ploughs. What skies dangling with freefall of blasted birds. What broken shelves of mountains on which markhor have left behind their winter coats, their spiraled horns. What towns of smoke and elegy of 9 AM shadow. What strange noons of orange fog, an acreage of embers sparking into fire. The moon keeps a tally on its chipped marble whiteboard: each plank of hewn and stolen wood; each pod of pilot whales and porpoises, their effort to steer out of boiled saltwater to strand upon the coast. And you, mouth that did not eat of soups with sea-turtle eggs and pangolin flesh, that did not tear the joints off buttonquail roasted on bamboo spits, that did not dip a spoon into stews of elk— yet you dressed your skin in velvet and let them dwindle into abandoned shells, sink like rusted vessels. Always at dusk, the ancestors visit: their wings cleave air you find increasingly hard to breathe. What wounds, what fingerprints you’ve left on every surface: hard as diamond points, scattershot trails visible from thousands of miles above the earth. There’s only this moment. Don’t call on stars or meteors. Don’t speak just to speak.
In response to Via Negativa: Unthinkability.
Where are the toys in your house, asks my grandson with his face next to the cell phone screen. The sky's not ash or amber where we are in the south. We've barely been outside these long months. He watches solemnly as I pick up a little metal thing with wheels; pull it back, then let it roll across the floor. It tracks a wobbly line that comes to a stop at the far end by the wall, near the coat rack and the outside shoes lined up by the door; next to a shelf of books. It's mostly quiet in our neighborhood, but none of us heard when a gust of wind knocked down the deck umbrella sometime in the night. Now and again, the high-up hum of cicadas. Imagine a sound like that, magnified by flame and crackling through dry hills in the west. The animals' ears pushed back; each one alert and unblinking.
there are too many mirrors or none at all in hallways painted white or green or blue. The bones of trees resemble bodies of fish picked clean by an orange mouth and a hungry knife and fork. And salt is the wound that rubs itself raw until its fingers are hot like a pan that's just emerged from a fire. In the story of your life, the moon tells the same story it has told itself and you for years: that your common love— of the air, of towns where women sew cunning stars onto moody fields of indigo, of horses that pause, nostrils trembling in the dark— is the fruit whose price you'll pay every time. In the story of your life, you will stay not because there's nowhere else you could go, but because only here could you reap the voluptuous fragrance of its rare flowers when they came; and only here lay its pieces on an anvil made strong by tears. But owls call through sleepless weeks asking the wind for anything that used to sing of green, for mountains whose skirts have not yet been unfastened— With your hands you'll weave again a basket of rushes; you'll take from your breast and cover the light with a striped blanket then bend down and pray to the water to take it downriver, far away from here.
In the streets, people were returning with purple indelible ink on their thumbs after voting in a referendum. The songs of the scissors- grinder and bean curd vendor drifted in, settling like quiet on the pillows. My mother brought a bowl steaming with the broth of clams to my lips. My other mother smeared coconut oil across the dome of my newly emptied womb. There was a moment when I couldn't remember the name attached to this body, where the plumb line was that drifted down and down through it. They said, that's the price you pay for learning to call to the moon for another body to tend, for holding as much of your breath as long as you can until it holds out its mouth or tells you it wants a name shaped like a cloud. * ~ Ilocano: birth(day)
Someone was still always washing up on your shores, America; or arriving with that mythical one suitcase, that dollar crumpled in one hand after having survived countless nights at sea. Someone was still always praying about forgiveness for taking only what was needed, for dreaming what others sneered at as impossibility or extravagance. Even as ice rained on the desert, even as the skies above California turned the color of rusted chains, someone was still trying to dig out remnants of that dream. Confused birds tucked their heads under their wings. In field after field, garlic and artichoke hearts bent beneath the weight of all they too could no longer hold.
In the hills, the old languages are speaking to each other, away from our habit of interruption. Clicking tongues, kisses to open the sealed envelopes of flowers; hard syllables sleeping in libraries of fog. The garrulous throats of small animals— I long to learn their kind of fluency, how everything they say is neither mournful nor ecstatic though their chants punctuate all the hours of night. I want the word for sleep to hide in its depths an oasis of waking; and the word for death to carry in its arms the shadow of a door.
So many things are unbearable, until they pass into a different kind of existence: forgetfulness, or sleep, or death. One of my daughters knits a bashful mimosa into a garment: those leaves that curl away from touch, shrink back to green in the underbrush unlit by any except the closest noticing. I thought I knew the sound of snapped twigs, unseen wings slicing the air— the waiting between one moment of uncertainty and another.
while the sun of summer teeters on the cusp of cooler weather, something taps on the edge of my brain as if to say here you ought to take a few minutes to read a book or close your eyes, quiet the perennial pounding in your heart; not even swing or make any motion at all, just lie in this shallow suspended bowl since after all we have to get up until we can't.
"What has to decline, declines; what belongs to us, stays with us..." ~ Rainer Maria Rilke What is bliss a bird like a high-pitched typewriter repeats and repeats in the tree I bury my arms in a profusion of weeds each one with the same smell of atomic green I think I still have desire or what you might call perhaps a quickening Now I can watch it press and subside press and subside without yielding at once Or I lose my place in the song and stumble I am a history of small planes revving toward the edge of an airport field then stopping short before a mountain gorge Yellow flares appear in the darkness signaling return— Someone waving flags curling in the shapes of fortune teller fish
“…sometimes I forget, and I do, and when it takes me in I often nearly weep, I feel something breaking a little bit inside, and I think this is joy.” —Ross Gay
Tuwa, kasiyahan, galak, ligaya— each a different kind of overflow— Sudden delight then months of fitful to no sleep trying to remember how to enter the space between each weave Once I dreamed of drifting in a small boat downriver It was quiet as I lay on the bottom I watched the sky roll its soft blue cloth high above my head Anything could have punctured the silence in the trees My pockets full of holes Sunlight's insistent voice The moon asking to borrow more light