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Before the Body Begins to Fallow

You said, “I’m cold”
you were.

Neglecting to mention
how hands and feet follow your body;
how candle flames feel damp
against your skin.

You pitched yourself anguine against floorboards,
brought hands to face to feet
over again, in your pattern
of waking and sleeping and grinding your teeth
against your teeth.

And in the corner, two mice too timid
to shake your hand
pick themselves up from cracks in the wall
to remember that cold, heat and warmth
are but devisions of your gaze.

A Bridge

Entitled, as if the leaves didn’t know
they would fall to dirt.

She touched her hand to her face, leaving a bruise concurrent
with the sway of her fingers.

We watched the cars pass under a bridge only we could walk upon.
To all others it was air and smell and sound

and no more. Did you hear the train coming? Did you feel
the wind as it passed?

Four Birds

It became your rosary:
that battered mouthful of stale speeches; what was out of sight
along the river, hidden behind strings of trees marked
for the woodcutter’s pile. A wrapped blanket, fallow,
at the edge of the field in winter.

There are things worth conceding:
A litany wrung from chewed cloth.
A cause abandoned at sundown.
Four birds, dead, along the side of the road.

As our eyes widened we learned that place was a matter of understanding.

Oh, you four birds,
you end-of-the-day,
where is it that I can place my hand upon your heartbeat?