Philip Metres

From Sokolniki

On Moscow’s outskirts, falcon and falconer
once stretched the orbit of trust. They’ve left
only the name, sokol’nik, lost circles from sky
to departed hand. Last orange light
washes through trees tugged by wind. A friend
chops carrots, I slice apples, cramped around the table.
He tells of a strange book—a single word
repeated two hundred pages. (He’d forgotten
the word). Reporters crowded, the writer spoke:
“every morning, alone, before light, I’d begin
yearning for the word. As I wrote, I’d lose it,
then find it along the way. At times I’d feel
miles from it, then next to it, then I would hate it
the way you can hate someone you’ve loved
enough to let go. But it stayed. And here we are.”
The sun is lost now, under the blue of new snow.
Somewhere lovers touch tenderly in the dark
as if their bodies were bruised, as if they spoke
different languages. As if they did not know
what days would bring, and they could lose
each other, the thread of a word fluttering
so awkwardly between them. A word
they did not know they already knew, and would
repeat, until even their names were gone.

Philip Metres
From Sokolniki first appeared in River Styx (2003), and was later published in Primer for Non-Native Speakers (The Kent State University Press, 2004).