Some mornings he would grant the river hands
if he knew it would take a hacksaw to the birdsong.
Some mornings you can’t persuade him
beauty isn’t mockery. Beauty isn’t mockery
so much as constant and impermeable.
And in his ears so loud. When the river is this cold
you can chip it into jewelry. Watching those
diamonds, thinking how they would melt
across a collar bone, he believes every body’s
burning is his home. It presses every button on his chest
to think it. To think it feels as strange as love.
Such a primal, tactile fact. It’s his favorite source of suffering.
He’s read the histories. He knows there’ll be no sorting it.
Some will sing their sorrow out. Some will burn whatever doesn’t drown.
Devil on the Father’s Face
Midmorning and cold in Memphis, reciting the sad, old names of floods,
he sees it smear a shop window’s dust.
It took him how long to learn that face himself?
Or at least its approximation, like everything he does,
being an approximate god. Being an approximate god,
he can’t recall the first differentiation. He imagines it started
as something faint, something delicate, like the lace-trimmed nightgowns
certain conquistadors wore when they slept lost amid the bogs of Florida.
Those men saw faces everywhere and tried to put sharp metal objects into each.
Those men thought water would save them.
Those men. They were so proud. He feels now for their blood’s blunt sincerity.
Wanderers, all they really had to keep them warm was fire.
He shivers again, watching sadness perch upon some junipers.
Those men thought something would save them even as they drowned.