Five Poems by Simon Perchik

*

You kneel the way this sky never learned
those chancy turns the dirt throws back
as breezes, still warm, scented

with what’s left from when the Earth
had two centers, one blue, the other
footsteps, half random, half gathered in

for stones no longer moving
—you begin each descent
unsure, around and around, entangled

as if roots would nudge the dead closer
again into your arm over arm waving goodbye
with one more than the other

—it’s how you dig, folded over
and your shadow deeper and deeper
already reeks from far off and wings.

*

You strap this watch in place
as if it inherited the wobble
that grew into sunlight

then darkness, then wear, then
you set the time years ahead
the way dirt still unravels

and between each finger
a slow, climbing turn remembers
the middle before it became

the sun —it’s hopeless! the watch
trying to keep up
taking you by the hand

though you dig alongside
clearing the ground for later
for the footsteps already wagons

and you wait, humming
to the small circle passing by
tired and in your mouth.

*

Ear to ear though the tree
darkens the way this saw
no longer drifts alongside

in the open, clings
to wooden boats and the dead
you can touch with your tongue

once it’s morning and the blade
has nothing to do, already
half rainbow, half riverbank

low over your mouth
opened so you can read
between the lines, send back

a note smelling from wood
older than anything on Earth
stretching out till the dirt

overturns and you drown
swallowing leaves, branches
days —you cut with hours

that know each other
that bind and by themselves
filling with clear water.

*

For a time, carefully reduced
as if these shoes were watertight
and each pricetag pointing out

—you don’t know where to dig
though dirt must mean something
motionless under the exact place

that could be anyone
the way nothing in this shop window
is left standing, needs more dirt

more and more and the hillside
that always falls backwards
refuses to get up, no longer tries

and all these passers-by two by two
in your arms already opened
for so many dead from just one grave.

*

You bang the rim the way skies
loosen and this jar at last
starts to open, becomes a second sky

though under the lid her shoulders
wait for air, for the knock
with no horizon curling up on itself

as sunlight, half far off, half
circling down from her arms
end over end, reaching around

making room by holding your hand
—it’s a harmless maneuver
counter clockwise so you never forget

exactly where the dirt was shattered
hid its fragrance and stars
one at a time taking forever.


 

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan ReviewThe Nation, Osiris, Poetry, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. His most recent collection is Almost Rain, published by River Otter Press (2013). For more information, free e-books and his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com.

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