Who dreamed his days were infinite now has to fess up
to the lilacs in their glass vase. To admit such fossils
as these defy familiarity is just a way of saying
I love too much the sunburned bodies of women
in strapless swimsuits. I love the ocean & what it stands for:
that I might come to see my days arranged like vegetables
on a white platter. The images my confusion speaks by
tell me there is nowhere in death’s green kingdom
as beautiful as the inside of your mouth before you chew,
& that my saying so is a falsification
of the feeling of looking in there, because the saying so
eats at the memory, & the memory in part belongs
to death already. I start to forget what you are eating
even as your spit dissolves it. I start to sprout onions from my palms.
My life is a black train abducted by a criminal.
So what if every onion I slice open
has the dust of leaves pulverized inside it?
Even the painter had to walk barefoot through the back country
for miles before he could paint that country.
But when I wake up in the morning & feed the pony,
the sweet-feed doesn’t tremble in my hand.
The sun doesn’t orange the mountains into high-rises.
The lake is a wheel with no center.
And so we pass through breakfast into another
year wherein the more turbulent wind
that upturns the new leaves blows also through our swimsuits.
You remind me of that wind every time you say my name.
You remind me of the iron clamp that keeps the power lines
from touching. Of a swan from whose throat
the stone cannot be dislodged.
Maybe the air is just doing what it has to
after all, riding through us, hollowing what it rides through,
whereas in the subway those dogs made of vapor
kiss our feet because our dreams are terrible.
Remember mine where the black goat lifts the baby
in its mouth, how it meant every departure
is irreversible, that the mind fastens to its objects—
green stem in the clear vase, what window was that?
Already someone is setting a bowl of rice there
& we are at the pizza stand on Green St.
& your parted hair is coming unbraided in the wind,
so maybe the future won’t be fires on the metal highway.
When we look into the rain pool maybe the idea
of the street will take flesh there, & the buildings will leap
into their rightful lots, bright as curses meant for no one.
Jesse Mack lives in Somerville, MA and received his MFA in creative writing from the University of New Hampshire. He teaches writing at the Boston Center for Adult Education. His poems have appeared in journals such as Columbia Poetry Review, Bodega, MOJO / Mikrokosmos Literary Journal, Utter, and Printer’s Devil Review, among others. His first chapbook, The End of Theme Parks, is forthcoming from Strange Cage Press.