What is the Structure of Lips that Make Sounds?
I am in a big room where they chose the jurors.
Today the sun came after
rain. Some kind of small cool breeze.
I parked in the watery light.
I was thinking of you and I—
And I am a girl with a splinter in my palm.
Sometimes it glimmers a little or aches and
I don’t know how to judge
any one. There are these burdens, you carry them,
sometimes lightly, sometimes a loneliness like
a dark bird on your shoulders. The boy doesn’t look at anyone.
He becomes stranger to us all.
We in the room rustling papers, and you and I,
a kind of ballad, I’m thinking.
Because I sing a hard song I know with you I
acted like my dog when he scratched at the door.
We lived way out in the mountains then—that
summer the hills caught fire.
That summer never enough rain.
The line of coyotes sang for him, and he scratched at the door.
He wanted so badly to go even though they would rip
him, piece after piece.
Because I sing a hard song I knew what he felt—
some high tinny flash in that wilder music, chasing him.
Or the light striking the trees as the fire leapt over.
Like a love, a leaping. And because I sing a hard song
I knew you were too lonely from the letters you wrote me,
those sentences as if strips of meat flayed flat with
berries pounded in and hung in the trees. I knew
there was something behind them like the dark dense
woods, the burning hills with the coyotes leaping
the flames. The meat hung in the trees and the many
many black birds that would gather, the pieces brushing
against each other. As if I could make you less alone.
Though really it turned out to be the other way around.
And to judge, each moment, a breath, such a hard
and shining thing.