Then to Now
You fret and wring each minuteinto being, all cataloguedin long lists amid laughter-light,phone-light, with the rindsof friends’ aftersobs, their silent blessings.Your breath smells anonymous here,gestures toward and out of yourself.You slim into a resemblanceof tunnels, tree bark, feral applesfrom the orchard by the cemetery.Are you the precise hour you think you are?Do you squander the spoils of your prizefighting?O blitheness, I regret nothing but encounters with you.I left the last family membersin favor of untendered landscapes.Loneliness articulates into a flock of waxwingshungry for red, seedy berries, and winteris drabber after. Are you the gray worldor the red berries swallowed into birds?Are you the stark branch or the sunsetsilhouetting it and charming it on behalf of nighttime?In this rebuilt warehouse storehousing historic dustwe ate the most recent meal in ten thousand meals.Now the house is skewered by a stove pipe.Now the blanched flowers fold every petal tight.We battered dandelion heads, ate them.Today a green inchworm, inching,inched along my clothed arm. [End Page 140]
From Here You Seem a Braided River
You wore shorefast ice,birds were starting,spring high waterwas still white snowin mountains.Ice still rimmed your banks.We would come to know gibbous light.We would come to know snowlight.We would come to ice light, star, animallight, window light, exile light, want lightand the light sweated by our selves.We’d know the light of the river ripplingshadows on the shadows. We’d knowcandid light, we’d know dinner light and laughter light,we’d know light off the underside of owl wings,melt light and the light of the woods,the light of letters, light of the dashand the strange feathers of baleen on blank walls.We’d know rain light and dream light. We’d know the peacefullight of a single morning, we’d know thethick light beneath the bridge. We’d knowthe light of our clamor to belong in all light,we’d know bluegrass lightand aquatic light, tundra light, intermountain light andthe light of surprise—I know iceless light of you,winter light, spring light, speech light of you,light of seeing you, memory light,photograph, ache light, light of one of these days,light of so much left to say,light of one day, light of one nightand one morning, light of one day. [End Page 141]
Some minds wellspring out of their own inroads.Some inroads terminate with the mind’s wellspring’s alms,skewing all speech-making thin, slipshod,some blow glass versions of birdsongs they can’t hearwhile bear tracks downstream of the fish-weirmuddle rubber-booted biologists with mouths of numbers,and the stream erodes the meanings under timber, under lumber.River folk carve sonorous muteness from dried reedsand store them inside mouths like wet beliefs.Their talk is song and the songs get caught in treesor settle there, ravens of the Pleiades. [End Page 142]
Jeremy Pataky earned an MFA from the University of Montana. His work has appeared in Black Warrior Review, the Southeast Review, Cirque, Ice Floe, and other journals and anthologies. His chapbook, Fata Morgana, was published digitally by Blue Hour Press. He lives in Anchorage and McCarthy, Alaska.