Simon Perchik


And the tracks as branches each Fall
bend with sparks :the bums

don't last long, her cry
inhuman, the station
dark, cracking under her feet

--she sees the ice
the giant mastodon
encased in a coach window
as if the glass would thaw
and she could sift through her footsteps
--she will stay

become extinct like that rock
uncovered with a blade still in its heart
--she reaches for her breasts

but my hands won't melt
are snarled in tracks and whistles
that weigh too much
as every branch grieves toward the sun

--she lifts out a breast
as if she could sweeten it
could rebuild the river
from this ice, dance backward
to that first fountain

and these trains splashing
and waves kneeling close
and closer, tumble
slash at her sneakers
her spongy socks

--she can't walk, her shopping bag
lame from rags that won't loosen
in this cold household.


Where is this tree going, footsteps
as if the snow never saw these leaves
and reaches underneath --a silver maple

snagged, and from the clearing
stars pick up the scent
swarm like flies around a sore --each branch

looking at its tracks on the ground
as crowds still toss rice
or tickertapes or flowers
though the tree has long ago forgotten

what was celebrated that Fall, and my eyes

trying to move --that much the tree remembers
how at a time half the world still burned it taught
them to blink
to clear the path thunder would follow

--my eyes couldn't close fast enough.
They never saw the darkness, the fire
fall --yes! yes! what a fire! still
in a heady breeze, my eyes
still reminded, will flush the dents
the blown-out parts --every Spring
I re-paint, still, in the warm dawn
suddenly the house
white, disguised, more ice on top
held near, wherever it's going.


I can't keep my lips off you
as craters swallowing the moonlight
never fill --I rehearse

on your cheek --what you hear
are repairs :each kiss
bathes the ground
as masons still pour a thin skim
to sedate the mortar

--that's the building trades for you! they know
how to slow the bond, how
in the shallows your grave
will drain forever

--nothing dries near you, these weeds
look up as if somewhere in my mouth
a footstep splashing like their own

--Esther, this moonlight
this bolt pushed through the air
won't lock your room after you
or the stones that didn't survive
that glazed too soon
come now only with starlight

--at least listen to the dead!
It's all we have, to us one tear
is a pond --drink from my kiss
my washed up stone --it's on your cheek

on mine, on this rotting grass
forever washing the darkness
not to set too soon --to the dead

the dawns are always wetting down
the world :a waterfall
rinsing that first morning and now
my lips over the last.


What's left is the stillness
as every mirror will store
a cramp hugging that corner

where the glaze aches
and my lips still dive for lips
for the soft grasses, all

lost! my stare
smelling from pebbles, mud
heartbeats knee deep

and this soap dripping a reflection
hung like a pelt --even you
would have eaten its flesh, your lips

as if the sun was still cold
when your kiss moved closer.

What's left is this mirror
steaming, the Earth emptying its core
and its water, fiery as ever
cracks the frozen glass
the deadlocked stillness.


Above the weather, almost worn away
--at that altitude there's rain
as if Death dreads the Flood. How else!

Billions and more billions to replace
those who will fall :your son, mine
and their sons and by this window
almost too near the light
we tremble, recruit our daughters
side by side all our armies
wrestling on stone and thunder

--we manage a plume where the blood
not yet red
stiffens its rush
--there's no letting go, our breath
blows up, re-groups, searches the ground for
oceans torn apart

and raindrops weighted with fires
blacken the dirt, the sky, our mouths cry out for
battle! revenge this Death.

It's hands are empty now
and yours are filled with mine.


From this lacquered dish
as ponds still sip for silt, the bride
lifting its shallow water :their first meal

has no salted edge, the dark tea
cools though there's no tide
yet, no shadow broken off
as the haggard have always been unwanted

--what lifts this first day
from the world are the fingers
foraging this black dish
flowered like an avalanche
--even her heart must yell to be heard

and the sun appear :a ceremony
older than light --it's the lifting
the part where the water
where she must drink
to never forget the gesture :the scent
from the first heart

--I kiss
to close the hole in my chest, amazed
there is a seam to her gown
and the column each song makes
dancing back to facelight
to melons and apples bubbling
over this first day from the world

and her groom
as a shield will flicker its chinks and dents
suddenly takes her hand, this small dish

pouring on their fingers :again dark leaves
bathed to stain all hope and the world.

The work of
Simon Perchik has appeared in various publications, including Partisan Review, Poetry, The Nation, North American Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Southern Humanities Review, Osiris, The Small Pond Magazine, and The New Yorker.


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