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May 23, 2014 Poetry

3 Poems

Ben Clark

3 Poems photo

Benjamin Charles Dowd

This has nothing to do with what you etch into the trunk
with his only pocket knife or that it will take him hours to axe
the tree down, set it aflame. Or that it was my name.
This also has nothing to do with your name
and how I turn it as a key. Most would
say choose one: him
or him. Then whether you wake
or sleep. If you wake you will try to detail an open field
and what happened there. If you sleep sex will call you
by your real name, ask you to return. Answer
or do not answer. Sway as much as you want. If you must leave
me in the woodchips counting stars. Or don't. One day
you’ll trust me. Remember it was you who said life is somehow better
but vanishes between breath and speech, between building
a garden wall and behold.


just a small hard seed

Jay is in Sydney learning the finer details of selling teeth to dentists. I should visit him
but the airport is closed. Protesting pilots. I make a small painting, the first in months,
and throw it out. No work today so I finish a beer, then
one more, mouthing along to his favorite few songs. I keep my eyes closed
until I’m no longer a body. My first solo trip in Willow a storm caught me
in shallow water with the sails up, and for hours I avoided damage by circling.

I awake to coffee, honey on toast, and a settling in the cottage. We hang clothes
on the line and water our garden. Jay finds spiders in the cupboards. He catches them all in one jar
then sets them free. I leave my mug in the sink. We are gentle together. I’m charmed
when he moves around the pool table like a cat, when his words basket, buckle, or break.
We drink beer to good music, drive the island’s edge waving to locals. We trespass and swim
mossy green lagoons. In the dark he speaks to me and I don’t answer, fluttering
between dizzy disbelief and wild joy, a lopsided moth, one wing larger. No family now.
Not for awhile. In the morning we will shape each other
into bodies of water for skipping stones.


I will see you soon or I won't

Across the Straits, days from Singapore and still he must have placed a bird sanctuary in me. I’m helping deliver the boat Willow to Hong Kong. It must be the first of July. When I’m not careful I waste long hours, my body hollows then fills with humming from the engine. Too dark to read I stare at the sea
or sky, nothing else around us now. I count each click of my ankles
while I pace the deck. I will not tell you how much I weigh.
We are on three-hour watches and the boat never stops
except for breakdowns. So far only small problems
with the stove, watermaker, autopilot, and engine. I imagine you
drawing rough circles on your body forgetting to speak but still
making noise. I did not love you then like I do now. This will pass
whether I remember you or not. I’m in sunshine, Willow eases forward,
and birds swoop for flying fish. Down below a good man is making me
an omelet. I could hang under the bowsprit far enough to touch the dolphins swimming around us, but instead I will wait for the rain. Time passes easily for once. You must think I’m only able to write of wanting.


image: Whitney Seiler