Even in summer, long johns
and fleece-lined jackets
just in case --you drive across
though the silk scarf
already resembles the thinning air
this time without its wings

--your back is the only honest part
braced in place the way arrows
could always use more room
then work it out from there, it leans

to correct for wear and tear
for the stubborn crosswind
filling each stop sign
till suddenly a seat strap
cradles your descent, half haywire
half burnt to the ground.

You don't trust the heat
--what could it remember
and the car stays ice-locked

--even in summer you won't fix the leak
keep adding more air, more clothes
and while the engine idles
the creaking, cold strings
from around each corner
firmly between your fingers.


And you, licking this reef
the way herds are nourished
with salt --even your tongue
has a trace, bitter, brackish
stings though salt
is what keeps stone stone

--with each lick
another mountainside and your tongue
longing for the ocean floor
for more salt setting fire
to the snow and falling
so near the peak --you clear a lane

for the moon who can spare
just so many mornings
just so much light --with both eyes
you sprinkle salt as if this stone
dissolves only by leaning backward
barren, covered over

and though your lips are skinned alive
it's the pressure at sea level
that garbles the breath
you almost make out and keep trying.


Still, the Earth with so much hair
is just not strong enough, the sun
takes all the light it wants
and every morning you watch
the struggle, it ends
with the sun fattened
feeding her brood in the dark

--stars get hungry too, need more light
maybe not, and you take hold
what happens to the night
that's just not old enough
to be left alone, you point
here and there and the Earth's core
rises to become another island
the light halfway to the sun

--you have your favorite star
though nothing you say matters
--you become the huge shadow
no one can push back
not even the silence from your finger
not its slenderness, not its nakedness
--you become everything that grieves
that once lifted the sun closer
could start the day and waters.


I listen the way bells
widen for petals :my fingers
climbing in a circle and the sky
I thought was lost --your lips

already wings, folded back
covered with rock cracking open
and the storm-drenched spark
means nothing.

Then whisper! behind my ear
hidden, almost a radio telescope
sifting this dust for stars
for the first sound, weightless
still in the distance and yours

--I need more batteries
and though some static has taken hold
it's too faint, some voices
are further than others :pieces
filled with fresh light, with spray
reborn from a lifeless bird

and I listen, these clouds
are already changing shape, some
beginning to breathe.

     Simon Perchik 2009