There’s the made-for-TV scene
when the cancer patient shaves her head
instead of waiting for chemotherapy
to suck the fallout in its mouth.
This is not a coming to terms.
because when he left
they were gone
of their leaving
I can only say I miss asking
where they came from
and what kept them coming back
all those wings
those almost dead things
Tonight, my mother holds her bottom lid
like a long note, blinking the medicine in.
And something like scales fall.
A: you let a man see god once and he’ll learn to make a country out of anything.
A: I think what I’m saying is that I prayed to any sound I could tempt out of a body.
A: the bullet is like any other thing born an orphan.
A: I mean it’s just looking for another new place to call home.
What some called hallucination
I called a sunrise. A morning with another
set of legs to free myself from. And they ain’t
teach that either. That was all me.
the night doesn’t sneak in
but becomes part of the room
a bridge to the cold outside
kvöldið læðist ekki inn
heldur verður hluti af herberginu
brú yfir í kuldann úti
And so perhaps every poem that means something to me these days risks being christened “Tenderness,” risks beginning with “Answer:” before, inevitably, turning and turning in its own intimate contradictions. Visible or not, audible or thrumming at some private frequency, I hear those two words now, affirming that the poem that follows must be a response to what history or memory, the body or faith, grief or whatever haunts us asks of us.