Early on in the city

on weekends claimed by fog

I came back to your farmstead,

your emptied creekside


from my laboratory wage work

with pockets full of micropipettes

and stolen white gloves as if to outfit a regiment

of ghost-butlers

in an imagined antebellum manor

neither of us, if offered, would inhabit—

but I still saw the manor’s cut crystal

glinting in night-frost on the fescue

beneath persimmon trees

where great horned owls left

bones to bleach. These nights

lately—with the fine rain singing

through ragweed, through mulberry

we’d kept for feeding ducks, the silkworm

farm we planned

to someday have—I swam

the wild wheat which shines

like a lake to far back acres. I unstrung

my jewelry, tarnishing from its work week

even still—in the city of sooted brick and grimy

air—from my neck

and wrists, spread the legs

of the wooden-runged ladder and hang

it in arcs inside the fig bower’s

ribcage or hay-rick,

displayed like ceremonial

specimens pinned to felt-lined glass cases

by the fig’s knobby twigs. Deprived of ceremony

I found nothing

in my hands but unmoored

symbols: I caught junebugs all night

one week in a jar to feed the ducks,

or once burnt so methodically old letters

from lovers and the First National Bank alike

as if a prayer summoning spirits

to the occasion could ever come

from cynics’ lips. To look down

for the layers of history cat’s-cradling

between us, which, unwillingly—

as algae on creek-stones

loosed downstream rejoins indistinct matter—

we forget.


After All This

The mountainsides
are empty, the crags
Ash pits
have melted to dirt
beneath the fallen leaves. There are no shots.
No firelight
but yours. No train whistles
or mail routes, no
riverboats or gasoline for chainsaws
or the dirtbikes
that had hummed across the valley.
No pack mules stepping carefully
sideways over the rusted chassis
of dirtbikes. No bullets,
no hunters, no fish
in the river. There is no one to track you
to your shelter, to steal your dog,
if you had one,
for food. No one
to learn your name and say it after moon
rise. The communiques
of the mountainside are spoor and paw-
print; they pattern the ground
just beyond
firefall. Without fear, the act of flight,
what would you have?