SKY TOTEMS

sky she infects with a drive-by passivity, sunset sucked out of a pop tune

wind rising all afternoon, inconsequent; dread only grows fundamentalist near sundown

inside her fingerpads, littlest fixations squirm, eager to follow their flight paths

dial-tone hum of her glance upward into blue


every cloudless sky invents a universe, what will seem preposterous when rain comes

sky is a word for loss, a child’s word

she slips her sky cut-outs between dictionary pages to dry—perceptions too easily
forgotten between words


this cloud, a fist of insect eyes absorbing light, that cloud a transparent fish, its
bones blue-shadow hieroglyphs


harder and harder not to breathe everything in, breathe nothing out

dusk, the inside of a bird’s skull, larval movement in the socket 








ACCESS                                                           (hatch)

Where her acupuncture needle breaks skin, sensations diverge, rivulets drift

from a river multiplying its alternatives.

Atonal milk leaks from the shapeless sound of a falling glass.

The next breakage, always more dangerous than the last. A needle

never repeats. The damage she’d allow,

still too shallow. She presses a needle into her calf, tampers deep

in the muscle that endures her long evening walk

to fields where drought has made its tall, wind-strafed weeds

the cauterizing edge of summer’s retreating echo.

With the third needle, she strikes the chord of a birdcall, a sphere of perfect

sound that hatches into widening

silence everywhere it comes to land—in that patch of dense foliage

shadowed by elm just outside her window,

atop the thick lair of unfolded laundry in its tumble on her bedroom floor,

in the wrinkled web of skin between her first finger and thumb,

where she presses a fourth needle to its task,

divining her phantoms. 







ACCESS                                                                  (membrane)

Most of her silences draw strength from her body

the way insects draw motion into wings from the muscles of an armored thorax.

Wings, the delicate membrane between air and earth-boundedness.

Other silences are rapid and reckless as a downpour hitting a pond. Involuntary

as skin breaking out in a sweat.

Most of the meanings she makes of silence only wander deeper

into themselves, the way letters in envelopes that stay sealed for a year or more

thicken into history heedless of content.

Other meanings become a sun sinking into grass, which is no longer sun nor

grass, but a day hearing itself depart.

She is making a series of puncture wounds in sound,

using acupuncture needles that are the thinnest listening, narrower

than a beetle’s wing-skid.

Skin has been her first visitation. Not pain, where the needle enters flesh,

but the silent shock of intimacy recognizing itself—a quiet

strong enough to separate from the walls of sound

that held it.

How to follow it farther

is a question. And any question will cause the quiet an injury. 







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