A spit might've been the after- thought from some god's mouth or a chunk of reclaimed rock, but not in your lifetime. If you remember what a coastline is, it's no longer a project. You can drive local though not on the freeway; and sing, though you never learned to whistle. You've kept ladyslipper orchids alive and brought a pilaea back from the edge of wilt, though you've never been to the Amazon. Have you calculated the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything? Hell no. You're the milk you sniff after the sell-by date and decide it should work fine for coffee; the wad of paper towels you re-use for wiping down a couple more counters. And you're always attuned to the twinge in the gut which lets you know you're not yet a lesson beyond loss, a grief beyond mourning. A speck of grit, a smart in the eye; a mouth for rounding a string of vowels at the moon.
As a child I used to see them more often than nowadays —floating free of some child's hand, rapid speck of disappearing red against the blue, yellow caught in the trees' gnarled tresses. I'd lost my own share long ago, though the string might have been tied around my wrist. The ones we took home just sadly bumped against the ceiling for a day or two, before sinking to the floor. What for? But I remember watching as such orbs of brief-lasting joy made a break for the open air. A slip, an accident, and we open-mouthed on the ground.
We wait for the sign of a skittery hyphen, the slightest color change within the shallow bed of a plastic wand. In other tests, the sudden fall below or spike above a safe threshold might spell peril and not release. 90 systolic or 60 diastolic. 10 million times or more than the average viral load. But in these strange open lots we navigate, there's not one space where you can park that isn't half-lit or some way compromised. Nothing's neutral. Positive doesn't mean yes, negatives can be false. Sometimes we circle around and around confusing ramps, wondering where to exit, wondering where to pay.
“The value // of joy is in its / asking, what now shall I repair?” ~ Kaveh Akbar Unseen, mostly invisible to the human eye— the ways in which the neural networks search and fire, fire and convey, or quietly sputter then restart along a fault—It's why sometimes we'll hesitate in front of the open hand, the overflowing plate, any corridor gilded with crystal and mirrors leading to a promise deep within a velvet-tufted hive. For how does a padlocked gate or the garden receding into wild ruin yet harbor the condition of repair? A house of paper can hold both fire and the wind. Bits of coal fell on the soil after a shower of lights showed a door in the air we could enter, a space where we could sit, our faces glowing.
I know sometimes I make up names for things that might be known by some other term— Once, I gestured from the crown of my head to somewhere at the end of my diaphragm, saying Vertical time; by which I meant all the ways in which a moment feels either stopped in its tracks, or many moments that suddenly organize around a single point: sand filaments forming a starburst or corona around a magnet positioned beneath a sheet of paper. All the while, the minutes tick horizontally onward: the minute hand moves from five minutes to the hour to the actual hour; a horn sounds the punctual schedule for a drawbridge to lower and then again to lift. Lyrical shaft of sunlight cutting through glass before the shade is lowered.
hummingbird hover full tilt fast lane blink of an eye chop-chop posthaste wind's bustle hell for leather death's rattle drops of food color in cold and hot water upper limit wave length changes in particulate matter but nothing faster than light
If this is but a study of the appearance of things or the way consciousness has structured the experience of things, then this is the room in which a locket has gone missing. This is a pillowcase into which the thieves stuffed silver and small electronics before climbing out of the window and into the rain. I closed my eyes and pretended to be asleep while they rifled one last time through the drawers. That was long ago, but when it comes back it still feels real. Moonlight passes through the blinds, touching as if it could take. I watch the windows while you sleep.
Ivory, ecru, massed petals on three heads of hydrangea. After three days, each begins to sport a light ochre outline. We know what it means: everything goes into decline. Yesterday, a communion. Today, a wedding. Tomorrow, blooms falling like snow into the open earth.
Everyone is counting on their fingers, holding their breath, waiting for the next creature to come out of the sky to devour them. Corpses kneel on the ground, praying to remember the last thing they ate or saw or heard before boarding the ferry. Clouds bearing promises of snow prowl overhead. Sometimes they are selfish, other times just careless. Who said Life is a dream? Close your eyes, but keep your radar tuned to voices in the ether, or the odor of rosemary and cypress. A man fumbled for hours in the woods, arms outstretched, following the voice of an owl.
No one told me what a poem really was until I heard a woman say in an interview: We are all living inside a poem. I thought then of the poem of my early morning: the tiny bit of salt sprinkled on an egg as it fried in the pan after I broke the white- walled fortress where it kept a little sun captive. And I thought of the poem of midday, a window straining to open after months of being shut, but whose wooden frame now shrinks from the cold. The poem of the world inside the radio crackled with news of ice storms, and people on the road huddled together all night researching every pocket of warmth to be found. In another poem, a man was bringing his wife home from the hospital. Fish in ponds looked up every now and then at the frozen ceiling, before moving back into their blue- speckled rooms.