Storms are generous.
                                      Something so easy to surrender to, sitting by the window,
 and then you step out into the garden you were so bored of,
                 so bored of you hated it,
                                             but now it needs you.

                          Twang of the rake’s metal tines biting at the dirt.
   You destroy a little camp of mushrooms,
                                                                   pull leaves into a pile,
                                                                              are struck with wonder
                                                                   when there rolls out
                                                                                              a little bird’s nest—
                                                                                                 the garden’s
brain.

    You want to hide in it.
                               Twigs, mud, spit, and woven in:
a magenta strip of Mylar balloon that glints when turned to the sun,
                                                                                        a sway of color you’ve seen before. 

                 You were a boy.
   You told your grandfather you spotted a snake in the yard between the buckeyes.
He revved his weed whacker,
                                         walked over,
            conjured a rose mist from the grass
                                                            that swelled in the breeze, swirled together, grew dark,
                                                                        shifting through fans of sun,

                                                                                                            magenta, then plum,
blush,
               gone. 

Smell of exhaust. Tannins of iced tea
                                                            you drank together on the porch later,
                                                                                          his spiked with Wild Turkey,

                                                            the tumbler resting on his thigh,
                                    the ice-sweat running off, smearing the dried snake juice,
                                                                                          pooling in a divot of scar tissue.

       A souvenir, he called it,
from the winter spent sleeping in a hole in the ground in a Belgian wood,
                                                                               listening for German voices to start singing
                                                                                                   so he knew he could sleep.

More by William Brewer

Detox Psalm

Only in the slow braid of a dream
can you study want and need, their
patience, their cruelty. Amid the thin
trunks of their campfires’ smoke,
I watched the hours shed
their polished armor, clean and
sheathe their blades, water their
stallions, refuse to leave the shore.
Always a shore, overcast, a sun
that offers me to climb inside its mouth,
and therefore cannot be trusted.
You’re asking to be taken apart
without the help of time, in the face
of its broken promise to keep
forward. I thought to give myself
to the dogs, but they only gnawed 
my thighs. With the waves’ jade
coaxing, I heaved my every organ
through my mouth, then cut a mouth,
at last, in my abdomen and prayed
for there to be something more divine
than the body, and still something
more divine than that, for a torrent
of white flies to fly out of me,
anything, make me in the image
of the bullet. I begged, release me
from myself and I will end a life.
 

Leaving the Pain Clinic

Always this warm moment when I forgot which part of me
I blamed. Never mind the pills kicking in, their spell
that showers the waiting room, once full of shame,
in a soft rain of sparks that pity sometimes is,
how it mends the past like a welder seams metal,
and isn’t that why we’re all here, addicts
and arthritics—we close our eyes completely
but the edges only blur—and though the door’s the same,
somehow the exit, like the worst wounds, is greater
than the entrance was. I throw it open for all to see
how daylight, so tall, has imagination. It has heart. It loves.
 

West Virginia

Fall kingdom conquered first by bedlam,
then bedlam’s hunger—hush—heavy
in the air between the hills that crash
like waves into each other. What is a hive
without its queen? Thirst can rule, so can want.
A crown of needles, a gown of clouds she parts.
Bees in the streets below, their tongues
like hands reaching to the sky for an offering.
This is what want does, this and the raindrops
becoming pills in their throats, spurring wings,
all that fluttering the hum of a false heaven.
And who, through that, can hear a few wings
folding under the weight of death? It is too late.
Like timber, like anthracite, death is a natural resource.
The colony glows. The colony does its work.
 

Related Poems

San Sepolcro

In this blue light
     I can take you there,
snow having made me
     a world of bone
seen through to.  This
     is my house,

my section of Etruscan
     wall, my neighbor's
lemontrees, and, just below
     the lower church,
the airplane factory.
     A rooster

crows all day from mist
     outside the walls.
There's milk on the air,
     ice on the oily
lemonskins.  How clean
     the mind is,

holy grave.  It is this girl
     by Piero
della Francesca, unbuttoning
     her blue dress,
her mantle of weather,
     to go into

labor.  Come, we can go in.
     It is before
the birth of god.  No one
     has risen yet
to the museums, to the assembly
     line--bodies

and wings--to the open air
     market.  This is
what the living do: go in.
     It's a long way.
And the dress keeps opening
     from eternity

to privacy, quickening.
     Inside, at the heart,
is tragedy, the present moment
     forever stillborn,
but going in, each breath
     is a button

coming undone, something terribly
     nimble-fingered
finding all of the stops.