OXIDANT | ENGINE : Issue 3

Simon Perchik

*

It’s not a map yet there’s hope

–you unfold old times

as if one morning in February

 

you’d spread your arms

and land became land again

stayed behind as the snow

 

still tying down the Earth

–a small envelope, kept empty

the way you’d reach for her hand

 

and inside the air was warm

though there’s no rain, no grass

not yet a place for a name.

 

 

*

Step by step you limp behind

yet it’s the Earth

that’s whittled down

 

holds on to the scraps

as mornings and the little stones

these graves heat with sunlight

 

–you’re warmed the way one shoe

lights up when it touches the dirt

and everywhere the day begins

 

smaller and smaller with no room

for moonlight –you become pieces

carried along, covering the ground

 

once some summer evening

lit by a slow walk arm in arm

to keep it from falling

 

–these dead come here

by listening to what’s left

is rising as it cools.

 

 

 

*

You grieve along this wall

once coastline, trapped

in a millions-years-old undertow

 

now stone and longing –each night

you draw a moon as it’s rising

and within minutes a second moon

 

overflows from a makeshift heart

holding on to the building’s side

with her initials face down

 

as beautiful as chalk and the sea

though your eyes are closed

whitened, rounder than ever

 

are turning into mouths

that open to say I love you

then touch, again and again

 

as if this wall could be silent

no longer separate you from the dead

from the salt, from the water and rocks.

 

 

*

To warm this dirt the way these dead

hold on to each other –single file

brought here as darkness and longing

 

–night after night a small handful

then another and this hillside

is pulled along, rescued

 

from all the days after tomorrows

though there’s not a hint your shadow

can be unwound just by a wave

 

to find more room for mornings

–nothing’s changed, a single thread

still circles the sky

for the day you are losing

letting it tug at the little cries

that do not come back.

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, Forge, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. His most recent collection is The B Poems published by Poets Wear Prada, 2016. For more information, including free e-books, his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com.