This leaf shutting down
drains as if its puddle
could speak for you

though the evenings too
have outgrown, no longer reds
or browns or face to face

the way all these trees
still gives birth in darkness
and the echo you listen for

has your forehead, scented
lulled by the gentle splash
coming by to nurse

-what you hear is the hand
hour after hour leaving your body
and this huge sea

that never blossomed
taking you back for rivers
that wanted to be water.

From under this pathway the sun
brings your shadow back
the only way it knows

though what it pulls up
is just as weak, hardly pebbles
and on a plate left outside

as if this grave is still vicious
caged the way the dead
are fed with your mouth

calling out from the dark corners
for stones, more stones -step by step 
you remember things, better times 

careful not to come too close 
not raise your hand 
or one false move.

On the way up this darkness
must sense it’s more wax
letting the varnish take forever

though you count how high
a second time -these shelves
aren’t restless enough, here

for the fire all wood is sent for 
-in every room! caskets
stacked as if from behind

the wall would reach around
smelling from bark, roots
and the uncontrollable embrace

heating your cheek the way rain
returns to lower its face on the dirt
that never moves :these boards

kept open for a dry rag 
all night rubbing your forehead
darker and darker, almost there.

From just dampness, nourishment
and rust seals the bolt
in place -the carriage

already there and nearby, it rains
though you take hold a single spoke
as if the enchanted palace

stopped moving -why is it
a parent favors the weak one
and the crib early on

strengthened with blankets, around
and around the way they dance 
in fairy tales scented with midnights

with a gate half iron, half
this wrench, its gardens, ponds
no longer coming apart.

Between two fingers
you expect a knot, the string
is used to breaking its fall

the way her shadow
still opens the Earth
for a last look

follows your every move 
-even with the sun
you wrap this small box

are carried off 
by an icy stream
tighter and tighter, the cover

beginning to close, first
as snow, years later
over your lips already distances

and mountain peaks taking hold
though the mist inside
is not the water you drink

lets you say something
in secret, close to the ground
emptied out in the open.​

SIMON PERCHIK is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. For more information, please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com.
The Adirondack Review
FALL 2014