Simon Perchik

You never get all its air out
yet this water boiling
takes your hands along --shopping

is its secret passageway
lowered in front this display case
half glass, half with the sea inside

though your heart stays dry
begins to tip-toe past something new
in a box that is not a wound

--to buy is all that's needed
is your fingers squeezing the Earth
for its first river, its first raindrop

flowing slowly as string
no longer thirsty or old
or trying to lift off the lines

from your palm while you count out
one by one :a language
only the dead still understand

--you pay and the bells you hear
know all about how a bubble not yet dry
trickles down on your lips

floating off around the corner
and you can open your eyes again
--you don't hear the moon but it's a start.

And step by step this cane
scratching the way the dead
plant their scepter in the darkness

--they never forget which end
takes hold so you limp along a path
or perhaps your shadow overflowing again

--they rule the ground, commanding it
to rise slowly, let you lag behind
while their castles drag you on

--even here there are nights
warmed by walls and longing
and one knee is always colder

--you make yourself lame
are helped into the turn
years ago pulled down to make room

for rain that no longer falls for you
only these stones that have the speed
are always in front, taking you back.

It's not a beautiful storm
--it needs more time, centuries
perhaps as sea birds

wingtip to wingtip the way water
backs up in the streets
half rain, half from memory

and everyone who died today
holding your hand
and not moving

--there's no more room
though the mourners
lash down the dead

who still give up their lips
trying to remember
safe in the grave

why each kiss now
has no bottom, nothing left
only the gentle breeze to come.

To urge the dead you lift
a small gift, placed so the height
waits motionless alongside

though you can't sleep anymore
afraid once your eyes close
there's no turning back, you'll drift

as darkness into darkness
--you bring these dead a sharp stone
the kind insomniacs find

under the kitchen table
--they loosen each tile
the way flowers are pulled out

still drinking from your hands
on the way to the cemetery --you pick up
everything! roads, shadows, dust

and carefully face to face
as if there was something daylight
left out as shovels and weightlessness.

Inside an ancient gesture this swan
spilling its guts though the pond
never overflows --only one bird

half sun, half longing to flare out
as if the first spark
came from the sky and still needs air

--you come here to breathe
and with one hand scoop the other
from the darkness in your mouth

and because death was done before
you wipe away all doubt
begin to sing till the Earth

circles you, sometimes on fire
sometimes rain falling as dirt
though you are no longer afraid

to clear your throat
--of course this swan is stone
as it should be and the fountain

is stone as it should be
and the sun buried an hour or so ago
under its shallow wings and your arms.

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