* Though over the doorway an old horseshoe clinks empties inside a single nail
keeping it warm —a small room a stove, the iron pot covered with a ceiling
used to a door that opens and closes for no reason at all
collects what's around left out for good luck then winter
—even in the cold you sleep on this kitchen floor with its invisible nails
and creaking side to side the way the sun is struck one morning to the next
then back after the burial —a clear advantage —you don't give the sun a chance
let it burn as the faint scent from oak flooring —you have to make it work.
* These petals taking command, the flower pinned down and the work stops –your breath dragged back
where it's safe and in your lungs hides the way each sky is named after the word for stone
for this small grave each Spring the dirt adds to till suddenly you are full height, your lips
defending you against the cold waiting it out in your mouth –they too want you to talk
to call them by name say what they sound like turning away, alone, alone and alone.
* Both hands and this ink the way the dead are sheltered –you fill the pen
with slowly behind loosen those tiny stones you still drink from :you write
as if this shovel had carried away the Earth into moonlight where mourners
appear underneath your fingertips as words and rain and lips –there’s always a first time
–the ink would overflow rush through the lines left helpless on this page
–you hold on –why not! –already a fountain digging for the sky
its unfinished grave and every evening is an everywhere her heartbeat.
* Lifted too close this leaf fastens on your sleeve and dries —it must know why one ear hears sooner than the other forces you to turn and climb till there's nothing left to lose, the sun worthless, the air limping, poisonous
—you hold in your arm what every tree finds too heavy throws out and even in winter you pick up from there crumple your fingers till their bones want to live at the bottom but only one recognizes oak from when the moon fills up the sea drop by drop and your knuckles pounding against each other.
* You lean against the way each evening fills this sink waist-deep though the dirt smells from seaweed
and graveyard marble —the splash worn down, one faucet abandoned the other gathers branches
from just stone and rainfall —by morning these leaves will lift a hand to your face
—you drain the weatherbeaten the mouthfuls and slowly the mud caresses your throat —you go
shaved and the gravel path sticks to your skin, flowing half shovel, half trembling.
Simon Perchik’s poetry has also appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, The New Yorker and elsewhere.