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  • Astonishment For The Sparrows, and: You can Fly too Close to God, and: Hound for Adam Tavel, and: Proof
  • Ashley Seitz Kramer (bio)

Astonishment For The Sparrows

I divided my smallest error by my greatest deed.Nearby I kept the most beautiful cagesso as to recall everything I might contain, not much.During a solstice, I painted your last reliable mapon the back of my hand, its freckled topography.I followed small rivers of veins to vast pastures of paleness.When I converted foot-candles to lux, I noticed howthe light only fell where you laid it down. SecretlyI doubted the idea of measurement—its instruments,my own. I did not want to forget a single thingyou ever told me even though eventually you wouldn’t—couldn’t—still mean each thing. This is how we live foreverin our own minds amid formulas for space and time,despite the ice and innocent forgeries and with astonishmentfor the sparrows who carry their houses in their mouths andbuild them quietly again without us: each mouth an engineer,each airy switch a memory to artfully stitch in, each housea museum of difficult distances. Sometimes it seems cruelthat the truth erodes itself, sometimes kind. [End Page 135]

You can Fly too Close to God

My mailman sees my letters,who doesn't love me, how much.The banker sees what I haveto lose. My doctor lays me down:I breathe all the way in, all the wayout, past danger, past the shadowwhere I'm unsure. You can fly too closeto God. People take off their shoes.They fall asleep in the clouds.The cable woman hugs the tv, killsthe sound. The man who unloadsoranges is unmoved by their perfection.People turn my water off and on.My teeth ache. Garbagemen, gravediggers,people in masks. Those who check a roomfor poisonous fumes, manufacturedrains—there are secrets to defend!One full day of rain: my shirt soaked through,fingertips blue, I don't trust the weatherman,I don't trust the weather. A passing strangerslides an umbrella into my hand.Warm and wet from use, the red umbrellablooms—over me, under a thick white stripof reliable sky, and over the antssignificant for their strength. [End Page 136]

Hound for Adam Tavel

You circle your own house with your dog,who knows when to sit before you knowto ask him. You are mutually impressed,as if both of you learned the same wordin different languages. You trust his languagemore. He wakes when you wake dreamingabout the same high grasses. Another word.No one knocks now when the snowmakes of you a warmer planet. So muchfor the terror of your first child’s first seizure.So much for the collision of cars, the sprayof glass, a brown belt left on the seat of a blue vanat the body shop. Did those people make it?No. This kind of terror takes years to be madelike the fog that has settled on all the kitchentumblers. First the water, then its reason.It takes years to arrive and when it does,even your dog, who is otherwise obliviousto history and always kind, will whimperfor you in your own terrible language. [End Page 137]


I have no proof of my own fearwithout these: the shouldersof the moose crossing our trailmidday: deadly & indifferentto us & the neon cottonwoodsshocking October. Youseem already sad & I can’t betrusted—I double what the recipecalls for when it comes to onions.I cry & cry & feel cleaned out.I have no proofwithout him, the manon the motorcycle who diedwithin minutes of my fatherfinding him on a back roadin southern Ohio. After the wreck,against the fence. He’s borrowedtime before he says & now—Addison, eight pounds, is alive& thriving, one week newto this world in which twoyoung boys, strangers,offer to help carry my couch & laterin the same day, a manthreatens to poison my dog. [End...


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pp. 135-138
Launched on MUSE
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