The life-and-death world of carpentry
So much sawdust on my glasses, I stare at the wind
with the eyes of a cedar, one I cut down when it grew
too tall and took the far field away from me
where I want to be a horse, severed it into boards
for a dresser I dragged to the spot where the tree
had thrived and said to myself, can you imagine
being as innocent as water, drawers full of rain
and rusted keys on top from cars I never owned, collected
from the mechanic whose son died last winter, two years old
and wandered to the river, the ice gave, then sealed
like a window above the open question of his mouth,
there was already a rocker from an oak that also
got in the way of my vision, I will populate these woods
with an absence of woods if someone doesn’t stop me,
a sleigh bed sleep-deep in snow, a bassinet
full of crows, I have wanted to drag my wrist
across the scream of the table saw
for no other reason than I could, there I’d be,
different, evolved, a self-made thing
for the first time in my life, I am afraid
you formed the world for the same reason, Lord,
can you imagine something as dangerous
as desire: language, I guess, that cuts one thing
from another and breeds the distemper
of comparison, a man looking at the crooked horizon
and thinking, I could do better
Translator’s Confession, 3 a.m.
Dear C, I dropped
your sentence in hot water.
I talked to the boil. I said Here
is my thumb for you to burn.
Here is the soft heart
of my hand and my arm and
the nape of my wreck.
I said vapor, just take me.
I’m done burning
with these pages. Being invisible
doesn’t mean a person
won’t blister, doesn’t mean
the blisters won’t fill
with pockets of water
or when lanced the rawest flesh
won’t emerge. First the word
then the murky leak
begins—what another mind
may scrape against
but never skin.
Love Poem for What It Is
There’s nothing in the world that loves you
more than the space you already take up.
There’s nothing in the world that won’t
forget you faster than you forgot
the last person that stepped out from your life.
When the cat reaches up
one needled paw to drag down a book
from your desk, then another,
that’s not love—that’s dominance.
When you reach up your hand and try to wheedle
someone else’s to hold it, that’s love
dominating you. There’s no word for loving more
than you should, just the feeling of excess,
as if your tongue burst in a rash of red sequins,
as if everyone can see your stutter in the air,
staccato love you, love you, and nothing in the world
standing in that space to receive it.
from The Southeast Review
Thanks to fluttering-slips.