Hannah Craig

For M.

Wight, I have seen you. Two stars
on your chest. A fig in the left star
of your chest. In the center of the fig,
a stone.

The thin sheet
on the summer bed,
trembles. Lo, the cat
under the sheet, shaking himself.
Hurry. Your daughter on the telephone,
and you can only manage
to say the place where the lilac once bloomed
is torn, missing. Oh. The cat comes through
the door with a dove in his mouth, held out
like a gift. Yes. We suffer all at once,

You hang your stars on the hook. The beach-house
rug with its muted yarns, its pulled-loose
blue. Fish on the wall. A bowl of glass and shell.
How quickly all the nights
become day, and quicker then
to bed, to bed. Your husband

pulls you from the floor. Go to sleep,
the turnkeys whistle,
sibyl sleep now sleep now.            Star,
white on the frame of black. You hang the words back.
Nailed there. Fig. Star.
It spreads, and they say
there's no stopping.


He Moves the Chair

           In the space where
it was. I was lost, thinking,
was this here before?
And if it was,
why hadn't I filled it better? This enormous space
this clean carpet white wall
this stutter I'm developing. Why didn't I
move into the space myself?
           Or if the chair was the space
why didn't it fold into itself
when we moved to the other side
of the room? If it was only imagined,
how does the mind create a geography
apart from this one? Hand to hand.
The tree is not a tree. Or—here, you put down a knife
and there lies a spoon.           Today
the inside of my head is a room,
the garden of myself, the rose
I'm eating. Those are great teeth,
you have grandmother.        And there's the chair,
at odds with a table. There was never room
here before, not between the stairway and the hall.
But now you've gone—the house is changing form.
The doorknob falls away into my hand. Garage
doors groan on their irreversible tracks. Even the boards
warp beneath an open window. How will I know
where I've let things go?
This was a book, now it is a staircase. And that window,
once it was a blue bowl of fruit. I will even forget—
once this bed held two. Or once, your shoes lay
in the place where bookshelves now lean.


His is the Night Air

In the wet season, a boy thrusts a balloon beneath his shirt. Pregnant, he places a gentle, keeping hand at the top of his belly. The neighbor children are pouring buckets of rain into a metal washtub. One of them will sit inside, duck her head until everything is underwater. She will dream a dream of gladiolus, the rain coagulated on each petal of peach, pearl, pumpkin.

The boy saunters, slow and full as a moon. Slow and full as a saucer of soup. Sloshing, he moves to the water-inside, the selah, selah of someone's old promise, discarded. He does not speak to the other children, the serious ones so busy discarding, pouring, collecting. His is the night-air, and it comes, it comes up the hillside, through the golden linden, oak, and pine.

A seed is pressed inside the ear of a dog, germinating there, Splitting its case in the warm, moist air. This is what the dog knows, he grows a little world of smoke, a nest-egg that feathers and stretches until he shakes himself hard, scratches it free. This is what the boy knows, you don't know nothing. But still, there we are, expecting things to change. The little breath gathered like a skirt, above beautiful white legs. The calves, so perfectly formed, the ribs a boat for two. Crick-crack, the branches snapping back, speaking a disarrayment of the body, the head lost from neck. And the thumbs, pretending, this is my true calling. Look, I give suck to the world.


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