by Lennart Nielsen


What is the world but round?
I think little of other possibilities.
I am now a boy, younger than grown,
Fond of climbing the oak or chestnut
In my grandfather’s yard, to see, rapt,
The far curve of the horizon, lapping at the light.

Mother says I remind her of herself.
What use is that to me, knowing both parties involved?
But I egg her on with my smile, bowing to the forces
That bestow ownership on youth. What a little dance,
My life. We spin under the Perseids, yearly.
That is how I know my age.

Mother spends her days alone. She writes
And is unhappy to do it. We live in my grandfather’s house.
She is his only child. I am her only child.
Were I to draw a family tree, it would be a line.
Though I may want to, I cannot climb linear trees.
When I try, their sap stains me with ink.

In the boughs of the grandfather tree, I spy
A dolphin carved mid-battement into the gables
Of the main house. It reminds me of swimming,
Which I never learn. How strange I can picture it,
The stroke and the plunge. Though I never learn,
I learn. Such is my haunted mind.

At night, the stars flutter like fireflies. I catch
A cold in March when I sleep under them.
I can nest in a tree like a sparrow, and hatch
Thoughts in springtime. Mother calls me in.
I dream of swimming in the sky, and climbing
Constellations. Waking is falling.

When I am ten, I fall and break my arm.
Except it does not break, it sprains.
What isn’t whole is broken, grandfather says.
When he dies, his body is burned into little flakes.
I see them drifting, from my perch, and wonder
If anything is whole at all.


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