Inside the rough cloth of our skin,
we row toward the oar wet with deer blood
and onward to the edge
that must be crossed
with crosses hammered into it.
Knives in here — he said.
You will count two in the silences between the gaps of our bodies;
three in the fibrous matter of our crossing;
four in the nurse’s gown as she reaches in;
five in rough cage of our silence:
cylindrical in the mind
that wants to chameleon from the gray that crowds in.
I strike a wet match on his wooden mind
pencil plentitude in its first unmarked box
and stash my invitation behind his waterless eyes.
Dark matter in the blue scarf,
crumpled map, smashed compass,
I can feel the faces of wolves.
Folding back the pier of her gown
I see their footprints in fresh snow.
The soft spot of her childhood head
pushed branchless into the parched earth.
Gray amnesia swirling after song birds in its dome.
The distance she traveled
chipped down to a few powdery beginnings
in the arroyo with flies buzzing out of it.
this man’s hand not my own,
not the tick of the clock that flowered the fence’s instinct,
not her hands weaving our hair back from the basket’s cracked rim.
(Our crossing was blood thick)
A mule drawn carriage
wheeled from his exhumed body
turned up in another sea,
it’s owner’s ghost eating the wheat of our lungs.
I hear the crackle of sawdust sliding down our throats.
I notice there is no fur left for the ghosts of mammals.
I sensed the knife in your past,
its sharp edge shanked from the canyon stream—
a silver trickle between the book jacket,
dine’ bizaad peeled open inside a diabetic mouth.
The waters of my clans
I fell from the white of its eyes—
our fathers had no children to name their own
no baby’s head to place between argument and arguments.
The commercial flashed a blue path
across the lakes of our veins
the bluest glint, a rock in the ear
told our tongues entwined,
that I was reaching for the corn field inside you,
that I was longing to outlive this compass
pointing toward my skull
gauzed inside this long terrible whisper
damp in a desert canyon,
white-washed by ache of fog lights
reaching to unravel my combed hair.
“A. Vespucci” was first published in LIT.