From branch to branch, past the old garden, a bird drums high then low.
Translation: Compact and green, unripe
like plum before the idea of plum.
Deceptively quiet, the trellis
alive with energy. First day
of the year: did you feel
the switch? Something sings,
reaching through each
register. The aperture
Dark-promised, soot-colored, life-size statue of the Nuestro Padre Nazareno— Clear sky, bright sun that stripes his rickety carriage, borne on the shoulders of hundreds of men. Carpenter, boat-builder, cop and cobbler; plumber, electrician out of work, not yet sober tuba-drinker; husband, overseas worker, skirt-chaser, wife-beater. They’ve all come to touch this visage of coal, this visage of charred ship lumber. Fire translates into scars on the body’s timber. Any piece of clothing will do to daub its flesh-like surfaces: torn t-shirt, scrap of cotton, burlap sack, polyester, old gym towel. They pull on ropes, conveying this likeness cloaked in saffron and red velvet. In the choked streets, see how urgent the desire to touch, be touched, be filled with fleeting grace. Some have fainted. Some have lost a finger, crushed a rib, a clavicle. For miracle, what does it matter that one might be trampled?
The woman in the cafe wearing red lipstick that matches her red boatneck sweater under a grey raincoat says, The poet is someone who is more a voice overheard, not speaking directly. Not spoken to, of, for. If I hold my head like this, if I hold my head perfectly still, if I hold my head aslant. There is a whiff of a voice that curls from the next table like a wisp of cigarette smoke, though smoking has been banned from restaurants and other such public places. Slide a white porcelain cup filled with hot coffee across the oily film of the counter. Run a fingernail across the velvet-covered upholstery and everything is still there: summer’s burnt caramel and diesel, morning’s toast; sriracha, lemon drop, partly sucked licorice whip. Above the curtains I can watch the sun move through a sky shorn of wildness, which is what some might mean when they say untrammeled. She is right, then. About lyric being a form of lilting paraphrase. Shorthand written in pencil, never ink. Code produced by the faithful stenographer. Careful. A stroke in the wrong place makes unintended meaning. But more, also. If it is spare, it prepares for tenderness. At least, the promise of a listening.
But there on the springhouse roof is a thing
fluffing out its feathers, probing under its wings.
Little promise of flight,
ascending and leaving behind—
The verb is not reflexive.
In many languages, the reflexive is rendered
by the transitive verb followed by a reflexive
pronoun +self e.g. “She threw herself
on the bed.” or “Weeping, she threw
herself on the ground.”
This verb is not reflexive.
It prays to be spared, but if that is not to be,
then it prays to be taken quickly.
I’m moved to get down on my knees.
I’m not even sure what is there.
But if you are, you know the heart
does not exist solely for the purpose
of pumping blood.