It’s halfway through summer
and too hot for walking.
This is not an allegory.
Each week, when rice and soaps
run low, you go out
among roaming eyes, mouthless
faces and carry back what you think
will sustain. It must all be cleaned,
which takes time. The rest is spent
waiting. Against an immeasurable real
desire, old as dust, to make something
and thus survive.
Also known: scales in your teeth
are those of your own frightened tail.
To the extent that a contract binds
this soul to this body—as light
to its linen shade—
you fear—not just a release
of terms, but complicity in binding.
Particles mote from your aerosol
You’ve done this before, you know. In so many bodies.
This time I come out alone.
Because a trick wing reveals just
that you were there, and are no longer.
Because my skin, and days they allow
grow porous and blue
as the break of air
Because, when I was a kid,
my father with his pilot voice
leading me to altitude
and with his anvil arms
held me up to see their small bodies.
He made me know their names.
He did not know to teach me, then
about the ways men live. But to match
the breakable creatures to their songs
he lifted his eyes —
below their blues,
their impossible strains.
We learn silence from sounds
that shake us still
and never ask us to sing.
Photograph of KB Kinkel courtesy of KB Kinkel.