Each of them described the brother's death in different terms, though the fact of his absence interrupted them indiscriminately. Do they know how he found his life, if from inside it looked like a cage shaped exactly like his body, except two sizes too big, growing as he grew, condensing when he made himself small, and no matter what he did, he couldn't dissolve its borders, not even while he slept. I don't think it let him sleep. At night, fighting sleep, I stay up as if hoping I'll catch wind of something. Tonight, or years ago, a wolf chased a deer past the cabin's front door and out onto lake ice where fate met each discriminately. Borders dissolved, but which one, between predator and prey, or stage and props? Anywhere there is a hole there are traces of arrival and departure. The wind becomes a palimpsest of the creature no longer here, and a song, or is it a cry, emerging from nowhere, on its way to nowhere, passes through until the textures of the earth absorb it entirely. Sound: a body's way of making itself known. Silence: a way of knowing.
Pristine the ash no one has touched yet
before wind sweeps it along across the altar
dusting chrysanthemum and bees
before it is swept off again
the way the body burns
part by part
particle by particulate
its tiny cinders
of moth wings.
After sound there is no sound
a wolf sanctuary
void of howling
headlights on the winding road
picking up snow
a tuft falling on the heron
as her wingtips dip into water.
my hand shielding myself from light
as I adjust
frames along the wall
barefoot on the black bookcase
the heat of my footprint
disappearing though no hand wipes it.
In taking inventory of what’s left
what the dead have cleared in space
like the body of a boy
curled inside his dog’s bed
a boy filling his own rice bowl
until he doesn’t want to
I want to be beside him in the dark
to hear his voice again
to stop seeing him on the street
in the back row
of a classroom where I teach.
Is there no end to this need
mushrooms inching along
blades of grass after a field of rain
the heron fishing
wings spread to lure prey into her shade.
In war they say We’re not the top species because we’re nice
In life I say Let me come closer
even if it kills me.