AMBER NELSON

THIRST / SPACE-TIME


Thought and time begins:               bang! —
a world shattered at the moment of creation

so that everything is broken now, even God.
A whole universe flooded with time.

And then stars and fire. Darkness. I remember the future
and the past in an instant: everything breaks

down at the beginning of the universe.
That’s the law: things break down over time

And that living begins with water.
When water breaks. Bodies made of water.

To breathe, it feels like drowning.
It is very hard to be alive.

I would like to drown my memory
into a forgetting. Another year or moment passes.

The lakes and rivers dry and disappeared
leaving only desert and dust.

From this present distance, all risks taken
promise carnage and destruction.

The burning of water.

The desire to know, then, is already
flooded with cruelty, since all discovery

destroys and we are always discovering.
I discovered love, tangled in space and time,

tangled in risk and return. It was a cold year—some place.

It was hard
to breathe. In the winter. The wind was brittle.

The wind was brutal. There was a drought.

Water, we learned,
was mortal. Like happiness, it could vanish.

Dried by the sun, I mourn men as much as water.
But I don’t want to fall again.

Not to fall, but to drown.
The weather is a weight and some cities glitter

despite the burden of its absence just as our lives
pass despite the transformations of loss–

the disappearing ground water, our hammered hearts,
and war, and cancer, and the outpour of blood and bodies

and tears on the dirt.

I can watch it all from this easy distance,
remember it happening over and over again.

My pulse is constant light, a space unmeasured,
instead of single heartbeats. And the light changes

the way light always changes: over time,
it breaks down, it leaves for our leaving.

Emptiness is part of the process,
like the wind—when you are broken, and thus open.

This hollow feeling settles in the dark.

A happy thing falls, the world falls,

in some places water falls from the sky

yet it feels like there’s no gravity.

I don’t understand the difference between day and night,

between love and its ending. The lover departs, and departs
like the water in my body and its salt, eaten alive by thirst.

It is very hard to be alive.

To choose to wake and to take a breath,
to force blood through the rivers of our veins,

the flood of beginning inside a heart filled with time.

Is the blood between us what we lost?
What dried up?

The fog, here, now wet on my cheeks, and gray

too late for our need.

We are all here, like the stars,

bearing witness to time as it passes.
And gravity tells the shape of time itself:

falling away.

come spring
come when the light
come cups of daffodils
come the hard bright lines of existence
come the cherries and fennel and fiddleheads
the pansies, the nettles, the rhubarb
come the hyacinth and the poppy
come the last edge of survival
come ideas
come outside
come bloody
come the raucous mating of birds
come their tittering
come memories of something
come warm
come early
I’m coming finally out of the desert
come rain
come water
come life

I’ll serve no god
but the trees

which saved me
which give to me the breath of life

into the end of time, where there is not thought
nor thirst

I was here
and then I was not here

 

Amber Nelson is the co-founder and poetry editor of alice blue review and founding editor of alice blue books. Her book, IN ANIMA: URGENCY is available from coconut books. Her second book, THE HUMAN SEASONS, is forthcoming in early 2016.