Tom Thompson

Design

Frost at midnight needle-points the windows
above us and on every side. Is this what pins me?
The windows do shake, the heat does rise
from roads and the layers of roads under them.
Is that the trap? I wake with words,
I sleep with words, and still I cannot speak.
It’s a trick of the jaw. The skull itself conspiring
to keep me just short of you. Here, the question of merge
and the points in our bodies that play at being able.
That lie down for the other, baring the neck
to so fine a set of blade and bone.
What you carry inside, you carry
as if a cradle, a back and forth and not ongoing.
There we are, you’d say. Already
it escapes us–ribs split for the foot,
then the head, stretch of skin, sin and muscle,
that third of us munching seawater like grass.
Is this the way out? So I ask, so I am bound
by stranger flesh. Until the drivetrain slips,
until the sirens arrange themselves
into a pattern one can sing, the stars left to steer by
will be cold. The design, we say,
is greased, slips from us. Who put me
here is you. Who left me here is me again.


Tom Thompson
“Design” is from Live Feed (Alice James Books, 2001).