[36] Untitled Poems, Simon Perchik

The glare this plate thins out
eats the way each star
tells you it’s still alone

though rim to rim you bring
a rain smelling from a narrow road
holding down the Earth

till everything is dirt and she
is sitting at a table, asks you
to hold her hand, childlike, fill it

lets you swallow the afternoon
even she will remember, your lips
circling down in flames and hunger.

*

You point as if your shadow
dug its way out, cools
surfacing at last in a darkness

once melted down for rain
and one last time
though it’s your finger

splitting open the Earth
lifting it from the bottom
that’s no longer a morning

covered with mud
and distances, has your legs
your arms, your eyes.

*

Four hundred miles, four hundred
broken apart for the road inside
though this box-like hole in your chest

salted over—every winter now
you wear two shirts, white, torn
so you don’t surround the cold

with sandwiches when soup is needed
—you bring along a bowl that lets itself
be carried off, empty, cared for

something to count that’s more than two
yet one finger loosens, its light spills out
as moons, single file and in the open

circles the snow fallen through
bolted to the ground—someone
feeding someone so many times.

*

Without a backbone this butterfly
becomes a weightlifter, each wing
put to work as the slow climbing turn

that once wandered around in the open
—you’re used to sleeves, both arms
warmed by that descent into darkness

where each death makes way for the next
—it’s natural you gather here, side by side
—in this old neighborhood it’s the Earth

that’s shining overhead, eased up
already stripped from your shadow
turning its face from the ground.

*

And though the Earth lets you dig
it’s your tears that heat the ground
already growing stars

once the darkness covers it
to lure these dead here
with stones scented with shorelines

returned not as rain but grass
just as it was, closing in from all sides
the way this shovel is warmed

by your hands kept wet, pulled
closer—you cling to this dirt
as if it once was an afternoon

knows only the slow descent
hand over hand into stone
that no longer opens to hear the bleeding.

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