As if I could blind the man holding these leaves
up to the light, who walks in the open
who even carries identification

who every few steps taps the trees
impatient with the work
or some number --he's into the millions :the dead
leaning against each other. I

am the expert on eyes
as every stone has learned to speak
by hiding our last breath
--why shouldn't I have thrown that rock!

How else do I say
everything that flies is sacred
is feeling its way into the distance
into that last morning held up to the sun
--how else will that man
spare this bench :floorboards, an exact replica
a monument to all those footsteps :the cleansing

ordered by the Suffolk County Health Commissioner
and them word pest
next to names on a paper he signs
then walks from the room

from the Earth gassed by his man
who comes for the gypsy moths sent up each Spring
as a dove might find a leaf to rest, its claws
tightening onto its beak :nothing breathes

except these stones --he picks out my rock
as you would litter, or me
trembling under this bench
--he knows these boards
and what to name a wanderer :the epithet
that demands their death
acceptable to an entire County, to the world, but you

know how eyes break into bits if a page
has one name on it. So many millions :you
know the route, the huge truck
coming back for this bench.



*
We boards never stop waving goodbye
drying the drenched coffin, never forget
the handshake -the saw
A gentleman, always in a straight line
-the hammer nailing up leaves, clouds
stars -it's the nails that stay too long
that dress like messengers
like the iron name on an oven door

too heavy, the nails
bend :a rain, a flickering grip
shaking this shack from inside

FROM THROW-AWAY LUMBER, AUGUST 1983 :a tattoo
stinking from the dump
from rickety, worn out seaports
from nails that wait
as stars are named
to give us hope, the homeward
that never stopped shaking -we boards

never finish, we creak
here, there, another nail
to brace the dimming corner, another nail
to fill where one once fit
before it rusted out

-we never stop waving at holes
never let go, shaking trees
under the broken glass and apple rinds
under the stars that are left
-we built this shack
from the collapsed :the nights
unwanted, worn away, the wobbling
who understand why there's no door
why every board
followed the other here.





*

And the tracks as branches each Fall
bend with sparks :the bums

don't last long, her cry
inhuman, the station
dark, cracking under her feet

--she sees the ice
the giant mastodon
encased in a coach window
as if the glass would thaw
and she could sift through her footsteps
--she will stay

become extinct like that rock
uncovered with a blade still in its heart
--she reaches for her breasts

but my hands won't melt
are snarled in tracks and whistles
that weigh too much
as every branch grieves toward the sun

--she lifts out a breast
as if she could sweeten it
could rebuild the river
from this ice, dance backward
to that first fountain

and these trains splashing
and waves kneeling close
and closer, tumble
slash at her sneakers
her spongy socks

--she can't walk, her shopping bag
lame from rags that won't loosen
in this cold household.





*

Where is this tree going, footsteps
as if the snow never saw these leaves
and reaches underneath --a silver maple

snagged, and from the clearing
stars pick up the scent
swarm like flies around a sore --each branch

looking at its tracks on the ground
as crowds still toss rice
or tickertapes or flowers
though the tree has long ago forgotten
what was celebrated that Fall, and my eyes

trying to move --that much the tree remembers
how at a time half the world still burned
it taught them to blink
to clear the path thunder would follow

--my eyes couldn't close fast enough.
They never saw the darkness, the fire
fall --yes! yes! what a fire! still
in a heady breeze, my eyes
still reminded, will flush the dents
the blown-out parts --every Spring
I re-paint, still, in the warm dawn
suddenly the house
white, disguised, more ice on top
held near, wherever it's going.





*

From this lacquered dish
as ponds still sip for silt, the bride
lifting its shallow water :their first meal

has no salted edge, the dark tea
cools though there's no tide
yet, no shadow broken off
as the haggard have always been unwanted

--what lifts this first day from the world
are the fingers
foraging this black dish
flowered like an avalanche
--even her heart must yell to be heard

and the sun appear :a ceremony
older than light --it's the lifting
the part where the water
where she must drink
to never forget the gesture :the scent
from the first heart

--I kiss
to close the hole in my chest, amazed
there is a seam to her gown
and the column each song makes
dancing back to facelight
to melons and apples bubbling
over this first day from the world

and her groom
as a shield will flicker its chinks and dents
suddenly takes her hand, this small dish

pouring on their fingers :again dark leaves
bathed to stain all hope and the world.

    Simon Perchik 2007