Everything is Closer
A lake rises from the culvert each April, its lip
demanding that he skirt its edge to reach
the shrubbery that gives its arms. Consider
the causalities in play: my father depositing
the Leica on the closet shelf after my birth
and the flourishing of the machines that replace.
The name-tag covering his Hendrix tattoo
and chimes blown down by wind.
If one desires work for his hands and digs this lake, digs
a hole where his child dove
into leaf-piles to reach the other side—if one free-falls
into a factory of hands assembling cutlery
does a resumé provide a small cushion?
Tesla thought we move toward
the perfect exigence of a beehive.
Shiva’s limbs and the gods in their dialects
recede back to fire and sky and wax
and we can own a bushel of each.
Of course I would lay down the distractions
for her arrival—if I can keep this pen
and daydream a little more.
If I can find my grandfather’s
vacation-time whoopee cushion.
Saturday morning approaches as a hum
of bees, and what do I do but feed them work,
gainsome and clasping. A legacy in labor
and its abandonment to chase daylight with her.
Road to Stockholm
In glass chiaroscuro: a self-portrait
hewn of ice stone and dusk. Beware
saying a word, for she is asleep and besides
the traditional view is that words cannot survive
more than 8,000 or 9,000 years.
Features of my sisters and I and a stranger’s
overlap in birch tree knots, the Baltic,
the Tesla Motors billboard promising
a chest of unbound fire: all we have compressed
left to the generation arriving, to those
who will find our fire a flabby affair.
The eye cannot cut through the black
past the road. An archaic stag leaps
in the family crest we forget to bring.
An archaic stag who grows into a cipher, sonorous
in its fading shell.
Only a few words remain
intact: slugging along for millennia: bark.
That and thou.
Pull up in the coach to the new: the bright-washed
walls that you will understand in daylight.
Mimic angled sun.
I come to sift the given, unrecognizable
and the mythic: berries cling
to winter-bare branch meters into that dark.
She wakes and our eyes are alike
in their slanting.
She knows we are near.
A grandmother peeks in. Jason?
Marvel of marvels, he is present today
and receives this baby, which he rocks
down the hall to the last blue lockers.
Students’ jabber between desks
as soldier’s through weeds. He ain’t the father,
he just saying so. Drizzle tamps the screams
of children playing below. Just saying so?
Keep writing, I beckon. His smooth cheeks
appear at the door window, arms
empty, grandmother gone. His backpack
—always on to evade thieves—provides him
for the next place. The front of the class
triangulates us along its thin wire, no place
for dance or stillness: magnifying our gait.
Across the school-yard fence, seagulls
bring memory of waves. Whose memory
and who in the memory walks a child
along the beach, the harbor, the mad street?
The gulls fly further inland and remain
until waves begin to separate from the bird
as an allusion. The lift of one’s body
to his body, the timbre of his call and where
he traversed by day and night
a personal allusion.
Jason knocks at the locked door.
BRANDON LEWIS lives and teaches in NYC. He received an MFA in poetry at George Mason, and his writing has appeared or is forthcoming in such places as The Missouri Review, Salamander, Spork, apt, and Poet Lore. This year he was a finalist or semi-finalist for five poetry prizes, including The Brittingham Prize.