Bodies in Orbit

A triptych.

Morning light dissolves the purple of early clouds still pliant with possibility. There the dog, there the hand on the head of the dog, the other gripping Styrofoam cup. Sip as the steam moves through. A ship comes in. Another is loaded. Voice from the dock: thirty minutes.

Later, past the southeastern hills, screen door rattles over porch over wet grass under grey-white sky. The flies start early. Your creaking chair. The freeway hush constant as ocean now, and this used to be horse country.

Down to the park, child in grass to feel a spinning planet at her back, trying to imagine the sight of us and all of this at a distance. Up and up, here is time and here is space but where do they connect? Shiver of sudden pulse at the small of her back. Her mother calls, Baby. She calls, it is time.

Come Fall

Saving in time.

As the weather changed, we noticed. Each wind carried voices. The thing to do was pretend not to hear what they whispered through slats of our thin plastic blinds. There were other things to do. We started with food. The impulse to offer. To the living. Vestigial? Maybe from a time when time was still immune to the clock and darker months meant scarcity and their coming meant harvest and the thing to do was save what had managed to stay living while it grew.

From the Children of Time and Space

Something like memory.

We wanted Time the wound-dresser, but he lurked with a shiv in his sock teasing us from a dark corner, what is it now? of the hour. He bet by our faces, adding wouldn’t you like to know?

We were lying to know, nodding hard and he was anxious about maintaining the image of getting somewhere.  

Space sucked her teeth, said I see you, but he needed his records and was always asking what we wanted to do. He meant to appreciate some facts of being here together, but needed an agenda to fill his reminders, warning this is what you need.

We lacked the right answers when he quizzed us but kept first-aid kits. He would demand these sometimes, just to check. We could be career knife-jugglers and not run out of gauze but then he caught us one day, with Hawking’s Brief History and insisted there was more to him than she thought. Meaning our mother.

I am not what they make me out to be, he insisted, pointing at her. I am no straight arrowno line, and Space laughed, oh, we know, baby, we all know.

For Child

On being here.

Plant the crab in the sky. You must do this regularly, every season. Now the archer. Pay attention to the bull looking back and follow the gaze of the frog. Notice the tide. Tonight, it glows in full bloom and the cat snake dives gold into wormhole. Follow the fish where it echoes you back. Give recklessly of your abundance and hold fast only to your name. May it tether you to what may never be pronounced. May this be what keeps you, always.

Homecoming Song

Notes for an ensemble.

Whatever you do, keep coming home. And I will keep singing for you. And when you get here, we can talk about these instruments that I keep finding in the garage, such as this mallet, which is delightfully resonant against that flimsy pot we were going to throw out, with the burn marks still on the bottom from the popcorn. I am blinding my way into some magic here and could use some help. Plus, what if I forget my name? I may need you to say it for me. 

So now I am making you a song with this mallet-pot combination, and when you get here, the rolling pin is all yours. It will be good to see you and to hear you say what I mean to remember. And to sing. 

Harvesting Moonlight

Toad bones and other remedies.

Watch the stones. One bitten by a mad dog will sow discord when dropped inside a drink. If tongue of dog is set in shoe, the others will not approach. Look to the toads, too. To spit in the mouth of one and set it free will cure the sore throat and the bone of another cures cold, inspiring love. Also quarrels.

Your fate is in the stars but as fate would have it, these are beyond your reach. So, you work with what you can. Stamp the magic square on a silver plate when Jupiter rules. Let abundance follow. Some say it comes faster if you engrave coral. 

An ounce of prevention against Saturn’s unrest is worth its weight in alchemical gold. With the string of heavens stretched taut to these lowlands, the instruments among you only wait to be tuned, that they may know the note by which to offer the music of forever, and if you hear it, you will know the cure for death. Grab this heart, this bone, this stone, this leaf. Watch the stars and hold. 


Inspired by a recent feature in the Public Domain Review, on Agrippa’s encyclopedia of magic.

Our Drive

Notes between walls.

there you are again moving invisible
singular purpose whisper the dream
listen up record this now no map
but a chorus in flight there are some
who record the songs of birds at the brink
before they go

like that before they left they moved
away from their feet into cars over rivers
of steel then asphalt

rail spine a direct line but not quite into sky against it somehow
the pressure to bear the witness so often
asleep at the wheel all of us so far
from the valley
who becomes the river
start somewhere I meant to
listen I meant to
hear you as you left
the land I meant to record
at least your sands running out
take this we say of the body the opening
notes of each of us in turn going fast act fast
you have to give it all away
it was good sometimes
to live in a time when you
were finally removed from the pretense
that it was possible to acquire anything
the anti-aging lords of war had secured
the borders of every new frontier we
had only to be here living to learn
the ancient art of passing through walls
between times and passing each other
we would nod beneath breaths this
single phrase our code these times
we said these times as
though to remind us back to
all of them you had to feel all
of them at once or else risk forgetting
how to move
or ever

Kitchen Math

Exercises in not counting the cost.

One was always hungry. Two offered what she had until the cabinets were empty. When One was still hungry, Two found the last can of mixed nuts in a drawer. One ate them.

Then it was silent, and the silence made One feel a certain kind of way. “Best to say something now,” One thought. Something positive!

“Hey, Two,” One said, “Remember when you used to bake cakes? Why don’t you do that anymore?”

In the silence that followed, Two took a long breath.