They became fast and already present wherever they were going.
By 7 a.m. they were thick and wet in the trees,
polished in church, fading into the jars
lining the pantry. They had been one woman
but were happy to be sorted out into three.
Inside their house, they made hooks and each thing
—wooden, iron, cotton, ceramic—
had a place and a set of features
that they used their lives to know.
They shared the nails in the walls.
They worked together to fold up each day and put it away.
They slept in a loft, three in a row, shifting positions so the one in the middle
always had two wings.
In the morning, they stood in the kitchen loving the window for how it tipped them
as if they were milk. Then in the early evening,
one would turn to oil down the front of another, and the third
would turn to look. Like a keen, white plate
against blue check cloth, her moving head would matter
as if someone studying the scene had circled it.
The slight movement was usually enough to strike the match.
Should I blame the birds and the way their feathers are stuck into them?
What about the pine trees pushed into the dull sand hills? They brush brush brush
away the face that’s trying to form.
We came here so we would be wooden and yet removed from the problem
of being stacked like kindling and arranged in piles on the ground,
but our plan backfired and made us less than human.
We stuck our hands into traps we’d rigged hours earlier.
We could recognize whether or not we were scratching one another
but not whether or not we were dreaming.
Once you believe you are the quaking fertile pistil, the notion is hard to shake,
but why did we ever believe it? All morning we dried out
and bent together in a field. In the afternoon, four or five of us waded out
and watched our dresses flower around us in the lake.
Our babies were gone or blurred under the water, so it must have been a dream.
You can feel how natural it is for your body to come apart
as the waves lift your hair away. So in that sense it was a relief
when the fire turned out to be real.
Do you mind the smell of a scalding pan?
The bird bones rearranged each day next to the front step?
Because I don’t.
I really don’t.
Pretty scraps of our mothers’ linens decorate the tree in the center of town.
If anyone leaves, it’s clear as he crests the hill
that a giant rose is coming together, and it’s clear
that it will fall apart. Across the small peninsula,
the earthly processes of swallowing have been turned inside out.
The people who appear are no longer new.
But, listen, you and I are rolling back
into the same head. You’re the other eye
through which the smoke watches our destruction
and finds it beautiful.
And I’ve eaten all my neighbors’ meat.
I’ve lived for months as each one of them, in their clothes,
with their memories stuck into me like shards of colored glass.
You’re the only one I’ve met who can also live off the fabric
from the furniture, who also grows more faces every day.
We’ve always been headed toward this lack of caring.
Let’s begin with the fine meat between one another’s fingers,
because it is endless, and we will never finish.