river with a valley so shallow it is measured
in inches” says McKibben
 
and no longer           Ever           but shrinking,
this marsh-wealth in a buzz
 
of conversing, wing flaps and wind, ringed
by housing, drained by canals,
 
an expanse thick with mangroves, orchids,
birds erupting out of grasses—
 
“so flat that a broad sheet of water flows slowly
across it on the way to the sea”—
 
algae, floating lilies, water purified
and sent into
 
the dreamscape—            	Heaven’s
 
beneath us, what I look down into,
bubbling mud, permeable skin—
           	
Driving here, miles
 
across paved-over space
 
till what’s missing gathers—
jaw open in the sun,
 
wings explaining—
 
What can’t be seen is more
than all of this         Strokes
 
of green blades          swells of nothing—
we’re            	Ever
 
latched to each other, burning

More by Anne Marie Macari

The Changing Coat

When I wake up, heart
up my throat, a fear taste—
getting ready for 
the changing skin.

Your hat on the knob
of the banister, tilted.
You ask, why are you
holding up your head

with your hand? I'm tired,
stripped down, maybe 
I passed one of my deaths
getting ready for

the changing skin.
Sometimes, love, I can be
your sister, dead,
come to you in her

changing skin—tortoise
shell eyes, through gravel
and moss. And you can be
my brother, dead, saying:

I never meant to hurt anyone.
We are looking across
the table. It's a field,
long, spread out, pale,

the ground's icy. We're wearing
our new coats and we've passed
one or more of our deaths
along the way. There's no

afterlife, it's the same, the
same life, and when 
we remember that we pull
close our changing coats,

we tilt toward each other,
the ground is softer
than I thought,
our foreheads touch.

Related Poems

The Brilliant Fragments

To kneel by the cochineal
head of the dead.

Fragments—grammar
broken along the way.

I tell you the birds
dropped at my feet,

            eleven of them, sucked
            out of the sky, whole.

I return home.
I report the details.

The men who attempt
to control animals

tell me to bag each one,
though I am afraid

to touch their bright
stillness—

            the blank eyes
            in their blank heads.

            It is all wrong,

as are the chemical clouds
drifting from the fields

where the cows make
us milk and meat.

The sunsets beautifully hued:
oozy pink, infected apricot.

            Day after day of wrong color.

And then farm trucks encircle
the town and spray

a silver-white fog
to neutralize the air.

Twinkling stitched
to the sky

            like ghosts
            beading the wind.