After the brimstone men were gone marching, the women gathered on porches and in kitchens near us as we played, and sometimes we would sit at their feet and in their laps, pretending not to listen to the stories they told as they rocked back and forth, pretending not to wait with any hunger for the moments when they would break into laughter, and song.
Inspired partially by Rhiannon Giddens.
The ordinary breaks apart, but in so many versions that it is endlessly ending into astonishment.
I can’t believe this, we say again, and keep on.
We had looked long enough in the too-bright noon to lose all track of shadow. What followed was pure color on crude surfaces, free of descriptive weight, the greens no longer grass but the breath of something wild. Unable to answer, we stood before it. Shining.
Siri how does it end and what happens.
To all these broken lights?
Why so many vessels, Siri, for some single
when all it wants is its wholeness
––We, I mean. All we. Want.
Siri doesn’t respond. Then one day
she asks, Is that your final answer?
Since when do you ask questions, Siri?
I’m sorry, she tells me. I don’t understand.
And the distance before us.
Phantom stagecoach and attendant mules
toward ghost town named after wash,
once stream. To pause by retired station
on full moon nights, backlit by what rises
from mountains, orbs of fire to augur gold
––or static of windblown quartz.
Eight-foot skeleton, lantern in ribcage
between Superstition Mountain and
the palms, lurching gait to search
before vanishing over ledge.
Ghost dancers at the well, trio
of death by thirst death
by drowning by greed.
This sense of something
shining as it disappears.
Hurry. But not as you once did.
Go as the sun arriving, rising
as sea foam up shoreline,
each into its pause.
Spinning above our framed parts, it was unclear who reached first when we fell and the silence to follow was the underground river after deluge sounding the strain of watercourse leaning into its break from behind the membranes of our eyes. The water ran fast but we held it in us as long learned, with late afternoon shadow draped across floored figures and our faces saw each other still dry, waiting for the coming quake.
where are we
thin paper in breeze
under arches of feet
when to hold
us is to hold
You have to keep imagining layers of stars at night, fold after fold the inverted brain, its witness a single synapse. But then what. Do you do? With these hands but set them over knees to breathe as wave rolls over back.
The air, its sudden stillness, its small voice, and the long watch just above its range and the watcher shrouded in a role too big for such a tight fit. In these clothes, this body, this moment, the incessant shout of it, ongoing. What is the sound of a call from nowhere and who is this approaching, calling back?
So little returns in time. Cause to wonder which of us is out. But certain patterns predict their own change. Watch the angle. Velocity hinges on this. Admit it now, how often you are carried across sky seeing bodies in it like a child still unable to crawl or follow without the appearance of other hands.
When I asked how, she told me, too. To find the tree to hear its sound and the sound of shaded earth beside it. To find the water, sounding water. To notice the call and response between them and listen for your cue.