Mirror 1: Mac and I Reflect on Distances
MacMillan brings back specimens, of course.
Proof and question both. Brings examples
of the daily stuff native: garb and tools.
One year, he captures the first moving film
(rocks bending on a hill to feed)
of musk ox.
He thinks dentistry and church were good
additions. Isn’t sure about the rifle.
Summers in camp: at last a bag of mail
full of the war, daughters affianced,
children’s firsts, other explorers.
Within the week, every man in camp
is hacking, rubbing swollen eyes, snuffling
as wife, patron, brother did
above the page.
Scouting, hunting on ice they pass over
sunk Basque whalers, a Viking’s lost coin.
Red herrings. The true reach here is west, nouns pulled
from Beringia’s high steppes, from Siberia.
Beside MacMillan’s machine, Ahlnayah
did her best for the wax cylinder.
He wasn’t sure a woman’s voice
could fix itself there. Still, she sang.
He brought that back, too.
II: Regarding the Absent Heat of Your Skin on Letters I Receive While at Sea
Paper wing Words smudged
in your hand’s stroke What
has been sealed Torn mouth
And a shiver along
my lateral line, olfactory
lobe lit up
Breath on the paper
Wind on the water (& off it)
Breath from the water
And ill wind Tear-salt
Fish near the surface, glinting
Plankton rising forced
Scent of panic (lung-must)
Petrels arrive because of
Patter and feed
Your eyes on the horizon
are greedy, could eat
leagues Call my name
Breeze Wind Gale
Let the air clock around your mouth
It pushes, unturned,
against your mouth
If you stand on the shore and call