Idyll

by Erin Radcliffe


I don’t know when we slept
but it must have looked like

water trapped under ice

that first
a hip against the half-light

_____________

Tides break every day
on this much-ordered planet

I can’t say which is worse

old silence or new

but my teeth grow flat
from grinding this single chaff
_____________

We are composites of water and bone

adult

I only glimpsed your summer face

sudden like an auburn wing
against the gray and broken sidewalk
_____________

I don’t know what I could have said

but night wears its antler of stars

which is at turns raw
and square

Sleep blankets breath
and this hails for knowing

what we gained in sharpness
we lost in feeling
23

I finger a peace
lid over the rest

No matter what I try
I waver and forget

that the branch is broken
and my belly is against it
_____________

What we knew in winter
did connect

the summer’s drawn-out pile
of clothing, noise and grief

No one could live that way

and the light I saw
up over and to my right
was not ours

if you find this
it’s already too late

and nothing replaces that
except for a tautness I can’t match

that rises up
and then behind

like silence for some greater skin
_____________

The timelines we follow
are for teeth to erupt

a plane to scale
a certain falling to ascend

I knew you for an hour
I know you for lost

a coil, a spring
24

a breach

is what we work at
and make with our time

Nostrils are for the intake of air
this comes first

and these buttons for flight
are the membranes we must survive

because return is lidded
cloud-shaped green
and irregular at best

_____________

So beneath is hardly a song

breath    brain    fin
salt    mouth    harrow
vein    and heart corporeal
and canned

the trestled meat of the chest
by which we judge moon, sound and eye
still faulty and warm:

you stoved me up is what

what you did is stove me up
so that I’ll never put an ear to it without wondering.


Read Erin Radcliffe’s Prayer Handles and Quart of View

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