Detail of My Sort of Light

Ander Monson
Now I know that everything is a body, 
so even the snow and the sand and 
the blood rivered down in the snow, 
and snowed on again so it's buried
is a body. All things are bodies in photos—
detail of the left side of a breast and the arm's
pit—detail of the sled slumbered under 
by the storm's leavings. Detail of my sort 
of so-early half-lit eyelid light that bodies
are near to invisible and touch is no longer
the sole way of knowing, and outline is all 
that there is. Detail of your body as it does 
its morning leaving thing. Detail of what 
light there is on your skin. Detail of land-
scape of let me in please and coffee, warm
when the weather's action on this body is less
than ideal. Landscape with pear. Landscape 
with weather and part of a breast in the frame.

More by Ander Monson

Salt

It covers everything, a glossy January rind
along tires. Sunny days have brought it out,
burned away the ice, left 
the calcified tidelines to gloat
on the hoods and sun-warm trunks 
of cars queued up along the curb,
parking close as they can get
to each other, to the raised 
sidewalk that’s buried
beneath the dirt crust next to the neon-lit
sign for the funeral home.
 
The body of the boy we knew is still 
inside, the cheeks teased 
back to cheery life with rouge.
 
The ice on the canal
the faulty floor through which he descended
blazing on the back of his Arctic Cat
is black as slate
which means it’s thin
and boys on the shore
throw aimless stones that yield
ricochets with laser sounds.
 
The outdoor rink is bare, festooned
with bits of the Canadian flag
fragments of the maple leaf
glistening starlike after storm.

Saw You There

"Carrie says I should make my connections into a poem." —Dennis Etzel Jr.
Sawed you there, through you there, girl whom I name
Carrie, shine of sun on bonnet-handle at that Walgreens 
on 28th. A Friday night. It looked like you came straight
from fighting something that looked like lightning.

You were all scorched up. Tired look but with a residue
of glow, not in the family way, as they used to say, 
and as I still do, since I venerate the old, but filled 
to the heart with stars. Looking light years away, the way

you operated that Redbox: how can a girl seem so far 
from Earth while at a Redbox? I was the girl in the super-
looking supermarket hat, with ashen face and hair of flax,
heart of gold and such. You didn't see me staring, not seeing

much of anything. Magician seeking magician's assistant, 
my craigslist ad would say: I will saw through you any day.

Related Poems

The Secret of Light

I am sitting contented and alone in a little park near the Palazzo Scaligere in Verona, glimpsing the mists of early autumn as they shift and fade among the pines and city battlements on the hills above the river Adige.

The river has recovered from this morning's rainfall. It is now restoring to its shapely body its own secret light, a color of faintly cloudy green and pearl.

Directly in front of my bench, perhaps thirty yards away from me, there is a startling woman. Her hair is black as the inmost secret of light in a perfectly cut diamond, a perilous black, a secret light that must have been studied for many years before the anxious and disciplined craftsman could achieve the necessary balance between courage and skill to stroke the strange stone and take the one chance he would ever have to bring that secret to light.

While I was trying to compose the preceding sentence, the woman rose from her park bench and walked away. I am afraid her secret might never come to light in my lifetime. But my lifetime is not the only one. I will never see her again. I hope she brings some other man's secret face to light, as somebody brought mine. I am startled to discover that I am not afraid. I am free to give a blessing out of my silence into that woman's black hair. I trust her to go on living. I believe in her black hair, her diamond that is still asleep. I would close my eyes to daydream about her. But those silent companions who watch over me from the insides of my eyelids are too brilliant for me to meet face to face.

The very emptiness of the park bench in front of mine is what makes me happy. Somewhere else in Verona at just this moment, a woman is sitting or walking or standing still upright. Surely two careful and accurate hands, total strangers to me, measure the invisible idea of the secret vein in her hair. They are waiting patiently until they know what they alone can ever know: that time when her life will pause in mid-flight for a split second. The hands will touch her black hair very gently. A wind off the river Adige will flutter past her. She will turn around, smile a welcome, and place a flawless and fully formed Italian daybreak into the hands.

I don't have any idea what his face will look like. The light still hidden inside his body is no business of mine. I am happy enough to sit in this park alone now. I turn my own face toward the river Adige. A little wind flutters off the water and brushes past me and returns.

It is all right with me to know that my life is only one life. I feel like the light of the river Adige.

By this time, we are both an open secret.

                                                                                                       Verona