Lost softness softly makes a trap for us. —Gwendolyn Brooks Michael’s skin splinters below the water’s line, his navel and all murky and lost like a city from my old life, or that scarf I’d loved, the softness with which we sink into what disappears, and the country of his groin and knees so softly already blackened. His sister snores below my hands. Her mouth makes tadpoles. Her breath wet from chemotherapy, I’ve massaged her a- sleep. Her shoulders swell their small tides. The air burns leaves. I want to want to trap her sighs, dividing the stillness, in glass, to a Mason jar: breath like smoke against a window—: for this man halved by water. But we sit in sun and grit, watch the waves which lose us.
Mudslide in Rio de Janeiro state...: in the early hours of Saturday, following two days of heavy downpour. A boulder slid down a slope and hit a group of houses in the city of Niterói. Volunteers joined rescuers in silence so that any survivors could be heard.
—BBC News, November 11, 2018
It's as if the marrow of the earth mistook us
for part of itself, our limbs its own settling
form, like we have sunk into chairs and taken as us
our tight-tucked legs, our bellies. Or known the settling
head of our daughter to sternum as an uncleaved us,
one sleeping self inside a woken self. The settling
mud around, its heave, seems simple now: is softening us
into dense dark shape, and we are settling
our gauges too: voice from volume, sediment, shadow, us
from the spaces we lived. Silence settling
who we thought we were, was us,
into this all-consuming lack. Nothing settling
a choke around the circumference of light, drawing us
in. We no longer know if our eyes are open, only settling:
(where our daughter sank her pillow—her hair—and us
somewhere too), though we're yielding there to this, settling
aphotic loss, how we once lived what we could bear: us,
her, no more. Now there is weight so true, a settling
so whole, we could die in its lightness: it exiles us
to formless terror—no blanket, no bed, but settling.
If we could remember that once a throat was us
inside a body. Only: here, or here, inside this settling,
a hint of shade, almost like memory: the sound of us.
If we could just know again our mouths. We
could part the earth with our voices, ask to be heard.