Poem Written after Being Lost in the Rice Fields
Let’s say that the fog finally began
to dismantle us, and that, wary and frantic,
we began to descend in a strange and rapid fury
on ourselves. Let’s say that the ravine,
flooded with rainfall and loquats, now held
the dead, their heads knocked in, the water
sculpting their eyes shut and shifting
the skirts of women so that they billowed
and, from a certain angle, looked only
like beautiful laundry. Let’s say we had
to chop the eaves for firewood, and then stood
where the wood ought to be, praying the hole of sun
would rise orange and blinking where it belonged.
We sledgehammered pellets of amber
to repatriate beetles and luna moths, but even they
crawled, confused and weary, forgetting their wings.
Then the low sky began to snag on our rooftops
and our chimneys, and we climbed ladders
and pressed our hands upward to stop it, screaming,
but believed that it lowered and lowered,
breaking our arms, wilting our hair,
pouring over our bodies like invisible ash.
I called to you in the darkening and said please
crush me, please be the last shadow
to close on my shivering frame, please be
what pins me down as this light is falling out of the sky
but my voice folded into the reeds
and the sandpipers squealed like knives, their flightlessness
beating helplessly against me, all of us pressed down
in our terrified startle, crying for a pinprick of light.