All summer I wanted to hold tight
To what I felt was the truth-
A penurious thing.
All I had was our breath, an unsteady pulsing
With holes enough
For a swallow to fly through.
I remember one in our room
Hovering by the portrait of someone else's ancestors,
A girl skirts askew, eyes half shut,
Seated on a tricycle.
Behind her, hands cradling her shoulders,
A boy bruised by paint.
The bird swam by the gilt ceiling
Then startled, dashed itself against the window frame.
After the beating wings were done
Hills clarified in darkness,
Bits of light fell from the sky.
We watched not knowing what it all was,
The air hurting us into happiness
We never really thought was possible.
No compass to the sea. The sea is memory.
From BIRTHPLACE WITH BURIED STONES
(Triquarterly Books / Northwestern University Press, 2013)
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