Illumination Night

Summer ignites itself
Methodist style. Japanese 

paper lanterns Noguchi might have made
for Martha Graham’s last dance 

alight the campgrounds, set the island aglow
in pinks, oranges, yellows, fire-engine 

red awash. A crowd gathers to mingle, a child
may wander tonight 

in wonder the way gingerbread
cottages welcome her to their wooden railed porches, dare her 

to touch the gossamer skin
on their handmade firefly swarm, cracking paint on their rainbow eaves, beckon 

an unconscious desire to trace a piece
of island history with fingertips. Her grip on home

rice paper thin, she wants to believe
her step across these wooden planks will never end.  But 

as she witnesses this blaze of an island blasting its last August
shouts before a decrescendo toward an autumn whisper 

few hear, fewer comprehend, she knows she must relinquish
the island to return it to those who find 

illumination into night without
a lantern, without a tabernacle song.

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Day 2,031 (Outside the Hive)

The bees are dying. No one knows
why. Saying hello as you roll
away does nothing
to clear away this rain.  

The beekeeper rarely speaks,
his voice cracks from disuse. I resist
filling in his blanks. They are not
blank, but beveled 

with premonition. Lightning
could destroy the hive. But that’s not it.
And if it was, you still wouldn’t stand still
long enough to take anyone’s advice.

So Utter

Sorrow as a second language,
spoken there, taught here, she comes
to get her education, to give back
all she has. It’s yours, 

if you can use it. She asks
questions no one questions—
answers upon answers erased
from the black board 

so she can breathe. Some will cry,
some will laugh, some will
die in this place where she comes
to believe in a broken tongue.

Truth in Transport

Someone’s placed a photo
of a boat on the side
of a train. There are buses
with bicycle racks
on their grilles, people walking off 

planes onto moving
sidewalks. And there’s the pigeon foot
I discover on a curb
a mile from home. It smells 

like nothing, but there’s
rot in the air, could be
a dead squirrel, could be dead
leaves. If you can smell my decay,
will you let me 

know?  I can never
tell how I get translated—never realized
you could tell 

there was alcohol on my breath
when I kissed you good-night.

 

What Wants to Be Found

Not marble, shale, leftover concrete, pieces of a letter
her grandmother wrote the summer before she died. 

An article on the history of Saint Anthony Falls, milling along
the mighty river, grain refined into flour, torn photos revealing explosions 

about to happen between two people unraveling
their love. A chapter from a science textbook on estuaries, 

salt granules strewn across a diner booth table. A slice of ruby 

nagahyde laying on the pavement beside an oversized dumpster,
the blood stain spreading across fertile ground. She places everything side by side, 

doesn’t use a blender. Her thinking is as collaged as a map
of her love life before the end of the cold war—overlaps 

exposed, tale ends hidden, holes carved into the ice, she might go diving
into the river before it thaws all the way through. The need 

to be found has become so acute.

No Rote

Entangled in a net of no one
to blame’s making, I forget
what I said yesterday 

about this pier and its hurricane
scars. About to begin
another plunge into dense 

deconstructions
of choppy water. About to listen
for those dirges we prepared, buried 

in this sand before I began 

to follow musicians around with this
spill—I don’t forget theirs,
they come ashore with ease.