The Moment and the Hand

Point of contact.

Closer. Lens moves over hillside, black with ash from the last burn. Find the fire poppies above the road. Where are they and the first call when it comes is a reminder: check the nightstand lock the doors.

Who is safe is a not a question. She holds it. Describe the sound of water eroding a mountain. With the cold moon come hungry dogs to howl night. 

Father seeking son, without the right address. Where do you send the words to tell him, Son I am thinking. To tell him what. To tell him finally. Of you and mean it. And imagine that he reads.

But if the numbers are wrong you cannot deliver. We cannot be delivered without the right numbers and until they come every stranger looks like a prayer almost answered and only a few of these look up.

Take notice when looking for a son and see one there on his knees beside the shoulder where it’s time to look and look again. When no movement follows call but the wind of passing cars in roadside sage then call again and wait. 

Hold the name against your tongue. Against the soft skin of the roof of your mouth. Of the son with no roof to shield his head. Don’t say it. Closer, calling hey and are you to the stranger and alright and how does anyone answer this now except to say yes except to indicate the pulse that means still living but it’s the rising blooms from the ash you need now. 

Move the lens. This distance from the burn will yield nothing. Go in.

Just in Case

Early lessons in looking.

Children reviewed scenarios. What to do when you are lost in a wilderness with no aid and no promise of its coming. A book might say if they found the right one, how to leave a trail by walking through what is soft. To stop at intervals to write HELP in the snow in the sand in the mud with an arrow pointing in the direction of the feet. How if the course is reversed. To travel back over the prints. To alert anyone who is looking, if anyone is looking, not to go beyond the tracks. To follow the lines of roads and rivers and listen well. If a party calls, they will use an unusual word. Three syllables. Internet! Coconut! Spaghetti! Leave personal items behind. But who has the book.

You can learn to look this way, scanning the horizon for smoke signals, for mirror flash, to train the ear to hear the distant cry. But how did you learn to meet it, children wondered, of the expectation that anyone grown would know where to go when it was time, and when? When the wind comes. Who ties it all down. They cut the books of questions into strips, folded each line into a basket. They would need more for the carrying. 

We Came With Questions

From somewhere.

Give us, they demanded. Some witness. Prayer wants
some sacrifice. To make it count. Prayer wants some
relief from the next sacrifice. To be counted.

Tie my tongue, love. Make me beg. To be heard.
I know what they are telling you. How no murder
happened here and no man ever flew. But I have
lived here long enough to recognize denial
of monsters when I see it

and I see it I see them creeping unseen

[Creep me] back to the dark of noon daylight
when the chorus stopped to haunt these ears
when I before the sky and moon called back
o waiting stars o endless space beyond you

forever made of what. Bring me back.

Final Offer

After the burn.

What do you call the records kept by those who escape from war with nothing but their lives and memories of the dead? Not History, but its adjacent double. The shrapnel in tissue when the bleeding learned to stop waiting for peace, to start saying this is the leg now, the cause going no further than the blast itself as if to say, here is the end of time as you knew it as if to blow into injury some reminder: this is the living now.

These fragments from the blast, this thread that bound us once so long in the weather and the sweat of my grip, past the point of being able to imagine an end or a beginning, love I only want to offer them to you, for keeping even after safe is gone.

What Comes From

The hills in dreamland.

Mama, says the child, of another dream.
Of black smoke above the hillside, how it
rose against blue sky, the tide of us––
running and we don’t know. Where.
An alphabet of sorrows in the rubble
in the smoke. Punctuated by the bright
of a dropped stuffed duck, yellow fuzz
against the soot. Place the crosses
in the road against what rolls its
aim over caterpillar tracks, its
aim our end. Save us. From these
signs. We want to be saved from
what they call signs of the times.
Of the times that they call of the
end. Of the dream with the smoke
where we move in the tide and––
calling. Calling but the phones
when we press do not move.
Something moves with us and in
the shouting and there is no time––
These times, these times. None
of it for names.

But try, child. Name it.

Soul Call

A prayer for return.

Soul, what do you say?
Soul, let’s meet again.
Drinks? To see the shine
of you, looking back,
your words dripping
over me. I will not
repeat what you said
or did when we shared
breath in that space
where the doors were
secure until they––
Soul, I meant to save
you when I told them
Take it,
of my body,
of my time.
Come back.
I have run out of
spare parts to give

Rhythm Study

Entrance light.

What the body records, language reveals. In this painting, the dance looks back. Notice the anguished bliss of these blues, the tension of this tenderness strung taught across the entryway. Come in. In this light where you remember, you were there.


Rhythm Study is the title of a piece by artist Le’Andra LeSeur, whose work inspires this post.