Run-off heavy and black as your hair,
the river rolls moraine, in rapids strong
enough to sweep away a horse. I believed
a handful of you would protect me
from the whole of you, the way an eye
of blue glass will ward off the blue-eyed
desert djinn, or claws and jawbones will spare
the holder from being mauled. With you,
there is no safety in possession, no talisman
for your voice; the skin behind your small ears,
the anise still under my nails, only leaves me
longing entirety. Of course I was warned,
there were posts and placards, but I want
Pleistocene, to be cold, to wade within
the broken glacier, follow its melting retreat
coursed back to sea. When the ice is gone,
the bedrock will swell upward, released,
only the warm weight of moss on its back.
With fingers in the rush, a hand dip of ice age,
quick as ankles brushing under the table,
but enough to know, I would not fight this.
“Safekeeping” first appeared in Barrow Street (Summer 2006).