ars poetica (clouded)
this morning I came to the document
in search of clarity, pining for that egress
of a cloud moving away from the
back of my neck where my extra eyes lie
looking over a glacial pool—
here, I say, it is so simple to start over.
I open another window, discard the last,
send it floating, out on the water. the pool is milky,
filled with stone ground to powder, clouded.
but I’ve talked, too often,
about clouds, this not my first, nor my last.
I remember the parable
of the painter whose studio went up
in flames. she lost her life’s work and
was relieved. when she painted
again, she painted the paintings her
immolated paintings had only dreamt of. a canvas
of a cloud of smoke lifting
off a pool. a canvas of a flame
extinguishing. a figure in gray. my
poems linger even without
document. I’ve read them
to myself, in my little silence, in my quaint
ritual way that to
lose them would be to, would be predicated on,
losing my mind, to watch it float
away wrapped in a latex balloon. instead, the air is clotted
with my thoughts, persisting there
beyond my will. without poems I am not
sure I would know
when I saw it. but I can admit
sometimes I want my brain
to burn up, hoping as I do, to
see the cloud, and write it out,
once again for the first time
I draw a character
on a blue square and send it off
to myself I say, see you around, Future!
more than I’d imagined I come here to talk
to the inside of my skull the backs of my eyelids say
hello how are you and would you like to see
I slice into an orange and bisect some seeds
I talk into a cave and hear nothing.
my ear is a stony drum
so again, the epistle is returned
to its unknowing language
going out into the world to be on its own the slender
document is always on the knife’s edge
of becoming a dead letter.
losing a baby can mean nothing but it can also
mean everything. the stars are already spent,
their light is still
on its way.
I say to my eyelids, I would like to see
the Virgin Mary levitating on a sea of fire.
I think of abortions, tender and not. I think
of my ordinary organs. I do not think
of my miscarried sibling,
sexless, eyeless, a too-young clustering of blood.
I turn soil
over and find milky grubs.
I would like her to come as herself and admit
confidentially, a tender gesture, that she is not a virgin
the miracles I wish for most—orange flames licking her
heart. she stands on a waning moon. I sense
her toenails, the swollen flesh
on the backs of her knees hidden behind a long
I put an orange slice in my mouth and pretend
its rind is my teeth. my lips barely fit around
the waxy skin. I smile and smile
my eyelids wear the sky like a long blue robe
filled with stars invisible
in the day’s good light.