But the moths find you, phantom.

       & the crackle
       of the javelinas
       in the brush

       old litany
       defiled the doorling
       stood canon toting

So, you know the ground here? Where else 
is new or to you called unknown:

       gumtree tipping
       onto the marsh 
       meadow's shoreline

The apology wends off as smoke ground to 
gravel. So you were here alright, coughing 
on the live tape:

       a canoe's 
       mystery 
       hurt by its name

Fall back with your hands before or behind 
you just so.

More by Joshua Marie Wilkinson

A Moth in the Projectorlight [excerpt]

          ***

Even if only in photographs—
a laundry truck, seconds after.
Phone in the apartment ringing
above the accident & a coroner
careful enough to stay speechless
until the wind picks up
& the passersby can smell simply
the blood, like fresh wood or
cut metal.

          ***

A boy of six cups his hands
around a wet moth
as he stands up
in the bathtub
releasing it to the mirrorlight.
Beige wingdust on his palm.

          ***

Yellow. The room is orange
& black also. Water
a whistle, draining in his mother’s tub.

          ***
This is the part of the story where
you leave
          & where I come in.
                                        Wait
there
          no—
                    there
around the corner for the signal:
the greenfinch
your twin sisters will
free from the balcony.

          ***

Came around
smelling of rye.
Aluminum dust under his
fingernails.

          ***

Memory opens a little door:
the dark & you listen
with your eyes
& write things in my letter
you’ll pretend later
to forget.

          ***

A kid at the mailbox sings that
your brothers are deader than doorlocks,
that your mother lives
in their teeth.

          ***

                    City of
no center, broke-lit
from the team of horses
asleep standing
under the great lamps.

          ***

A curse of split melon
on the kitchen counter

draws me out into the snowdrift.
White heat from the boy’s breath
& the toy house’s tiny doorbell
chimes somehow in the empty room
startling the cat.

          ***

You took your apricot dress to the drycleaners
& left it forever.

          ***

Haystink, humming street ruckus, moonlit
thumb-slice—
Each evening I peek into that mailbox
for what my father’s unable to tell me
on the edge of my own bed
feeling that
morning will scorch
into the sockets of his arms
& that he is
drinking           sorry again
Anna           sleep
sorry again.

deer & salt block

One boy is a liar & says there's a block of salt under his bed to draw deer in from the orchard. One boy says the pantry wall will open if you say an untold anagram of his name. One boy is already dressed when he wakes up for his young father's wedding. One boy hides a turtle from his brothers in a dresser drawer. One boy is mute & sluggish from the hurricane sirens. One boy took a long time in the bathtub reading the comics. One boy loops a tractor chain to the ceiling fan & tears the whole roof down. One boy speaks through a keyhole to the others about a shortstop's hex. One boy can't stand the scent of elevators. One boy gives different spellings for his name each week at school. That same boy stole his teacher's shoe. Another boy listens to a radio inside his pillowcase. One boy drinks coffee alone in the zookeeper's shed. The last boy casts a purple stone to the bottom of a pond & follows it down with his church clothes on.

Related Poems

Mostly Read The Luna Moth

The savor of mango is unlike
Toothsome papay. My son takes
My hand and brings me
Into the classroom; Fluffy
Is absent and unremarked-upon

And in his place, two butterflies
Use tentatively in a sentence.
One, he explains, is a boy and
The other one lays the eggs,
I counted the dots, is a girl.

Why do boys not feed babies?
He reaches to pull his shirt open
And I ask him, did you ever see
A baby eat broccoli? a ham sandwich?
Someday I will tell him

Food is an unpleasant subject
For poems, but today I am concerned
With biology. I am a science kid,
He says on the platform. Where'd
He hear that. I know where the one

About men nursing came from.
Seeing myself tell that story
I feel like California's
Poisoned groundwater and remember
How much work it is to be real.

Someone told you men can give milk,
But men don't. What about moms and dads
Who don't have children? Those are
Called men and women. He says
Oh a lot. It's immediate

And it lags into the next moment
And is quiet, what the teachers call
A zone of proximal delay. Without
This apparent lull there is only
Brilliance and potential. With it

I get to keep a faith
In the unguessable next.