Consider the principles this terrain reifies.
Wear down, for one, as you have been worn down. Buckle and shift,
for another. Who ever thought the land offered guides
for human conduct? Who thinks so now? It is not a thrift,
the land’s accommodation. Nor is it an investment,
our irrigation. Exile as you have been exiled
being our principle. The land as enemy combatant
photographed for a keepsake, naked but for the leash we hold.
∗ ∗ ∗
Does closure do to the closed what renaming does to the named?
Extraordinary rendition, say. Those pivots
for r’s, vowel-revolved. How someone’s saying so magnifies
any said. Said, Ahmed, Khalid: these the unnamed.
Does the fact of our unnaming them draw any closer
the changes that it, reality, magnifies and pivots?
If my wanderings arrive at, do they occur in, rooms?
I myself bear death’s tincture, exude its very attar.
Still, I post apotropaics. On the sill, geraniums
in pots factory-turned but hand-painted with stylized figures.
Wind-worn sandstone for a doorstop. Books, not because their wisdom
protects, but because alphabetizing them does. No lid
on the mason jar that collects coins and keys, brings sea glass home,
not in colors water does show but in those I wish it did.
∗ ∗ ∗
All this rattling of these my unrests tests me, proves me tin.
It insists on arguing for segments, against the line,
for jaggedness, against direction and the metrical.
Sporadic clattering hammers my image into tin,
makes me my own best guess at chaos, catches me rattling
after the anti-metrical, the fragment not the line.
I return because it was here I saw what I saw,
because when I return, though it has not, I have reverted.
I return for once-goldens, almost-glintings, almost-birds, now
married to mud, no longer responding to wind, bruise-rotted.
I return for shagbark, serviceberry, shorewhisper, the drone
of frogboom and bonescatter, bleached crayfish claws, any kind
of unassimilated dialect. I return to rejoin
what one never leaves, all this process, steady as stargrind.
∗ ∗ ∗
It didn’t have to feign bird call or mimic beetle click,
the soft slap-slap, in rhythm with his walking, of work gloves
in the back pocket of my father’s jeans, applauding dust,
furrows plowed, hogs fed. Shut up and do your chores, son. Quiet click
closed of a gate well-repaired. What if not poetry to call
road dust, so many tools just so in the shed, those work gloves?