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.
My Father’s Family Fasts the Slaughter to Feast the Arrival of His Bride
Ilocos, Phillippines What did she permit him to see, my mother, the first time he brought her to the ocean—the goat, hungry—mewling in the distance while my mother shrugged her shirtsleeve down, her shoulder fragile in new day? Or was it her wrist which implied the unfreckling of her forearm? The susurrus of flycatchers . . . softened bleats of starving. A hawk is circling closer. What do we see when we see? I can see my mother, but never my father. His shadow darkens her arm. Her breast sinks to a curve we three know—, and there’s enough time for hair to come loose, the popping of a button. A rat reveals himself in the corner the way a woman tenses in and out of light—: and my mother is coming to that point of breath- lessness, humidity speckling her birdwing clavicles— and the goat’s hooves rustle—: above mud, before harm.