A book or a coat on a seat
but how do you save an empty room
--the stuffed bear, tamed

trained --this crib
is already taken :low flying planes

and these walls by a cry
for later, by a blanket --the soft bear
so close to the window :a trap
rusted shut --every song
already knows your words

--the bear even now
listens for the dark mountainside
bending over your lips
--you have forgotten how to fall.

You look for an edge
but every chair has magazines on it
or some mail or a hat or the unpaid bills
or the dust that saves a place forever
ticking close to your ear
as if you are missing, are rocking a low stool
and your heart already asleep.

The laces are new -they were cut
so a knot would hold my hand
and these shoes lead you across treetops

-this time you are flying, the shine
softer than where your shoes
wobbled, plunged, weightless

-I'm filling the air with knots
as if something you touched here
fell apart, knocking down walls

and sunlight -hold up your shoes
colder than masks -you become stronger
on fire again, flying

into the sun, close to my cheeks
-it's simple. I wear your shoes
to visit you

or when their shine almost circles
you visit me
begin that climb the dead

can never forget and what's still above
what's enormous. This time
you are flying across the silence

from that first death on Earth
-it must have been a bird. Even now
pointing out the trees

my arms lift you into the wind
-easy and the crowd below
holds fast, knows it can be done

are following on foot, unafraid
their faces ridged, fixed :the dead
without a sound gaining height and belong.

Sniffing its footprints, this pebble
wants to start over --you lift it
and the sky too grows larger
heavier --you're in the way.

It's tearing apart some vague scent
all stone once had --you can make out
its tears, its warm pulse
its tongue stirs, reaching for words

for its throat and your blood
lines up closest to the surface
--all those years, this little stone
must think there's still time

that your bones too will learn to stare
to heal, sledged from their mountainside
scattered and streams closer and closer
taking so long to empty.

As if once and head down
spinning on its axis --my heart
made round, in place

sends out its arms
one facing the other, my palms
barely touching --a soft breeze

is building a patch
where the sky was hollowed out
--from inside my heart

a shovel making room, its slant
carried place to place
--on all sides held up
and the air falling to pieces.

You hear these shovels everywhere
and the cry almost airborne
pounded too thin --you hear the Earth
losing its shape --even the mourners
cover their ears, the eyes and fixed in place.

You send your hands across but the light
stops in time --to the end
you never hear its screech
and though the wind returns from just so far

your hands are raining --they remember
when once the sun broke loose
and everything on Earth, even these stones
sang to call it back --a soft rain

holding on to that light the sun
still retrieves :each morning an ancient lullaby
thriving on the sun --you still keep
a small bulb lit and facing north

guiding the sun --still sit alone
at a table, at a come here
and lead your hands across the same light
that throws the moon on its side

--you reach for darkness everywhere
trust this distance racing toward you
--at every window you become weightless
and the wall still warm

pushing each star back to one another
--you fill your hand
with another hand, with singing, a light
almost asleep, closer and closer.

With such a downward stroke
judgments are sealed and the child
bent over this blackboard

will soon finish the numeral 1
stroke the damp fur :the chalk
stretching its neck --on this darkness

the Great Bear will feed forever
edging toward the galaxies
--nothing is wasted, even now

at one end this thin line
the light starts out --from the other
step by step the dead

toward the middle and my hand too
is at home on the night sky
is counting each finger

with a beginner's 1
and in the center a sudden cup
a hollow palm where the dim light

loses its way from one cry
then another
and the emptiness between my hands.

You tried to say, Send distances
missing all these years --words
don't need a mouth
for a landmark --they find their way
through stones in riverbeds
in old bread that has your soft voice
your drifting away, hands closed.

It's not a particular bird
that the bath in the backyard
thaws and the water in your lips
becomes dark red :a great wave
come back from somewhere far
sweeping away and in my arms

--I send you distances --one by one
one from this bird, one from
these few seeds
and I am over the world
feeding the world through Spring
through its Winter.

You tried to say and this birdbath
whose stones still damp from the beach
huddle --I drink from here
as in a small cemetery
after a warm rainfall and my mouth
fills with flowers and distances.

Simon Perchik 2010