Pericardium

Joanna Klink
Am I not alone, as I thought I was, as I thought
The day was, the hour I walked into, morning
When I felt night fly from my chest where prospect had
Slackened, and close itself off, understanding, as I thought I did,
That the ground would resist my legs and not let them
Break nor let them be released into air as my heart, in its
Muscle, might be released from the body that surrounds it, 
Like someone who, placing a hand on a shoulder's 
Blade, felt a life move inside an hour and a day 
Break from the day the hour meant something more than weakness, 
More than fear, and flew forward into the depths of 
Prospect, your arms, where you'd been, before me, waiting
For me, the way the body has always been waiting for the heart to sense 
It is housed, it is needed, it will not be harmed.

More by Joanna Klink

Given

And I carried to that emptiness
between us the birds
that had been calling out

           all night.  I carried an old
              bicycle, a warm meal,
              some time to talk. 

I would have brought
them to you sooner
but was afraid your own

              hopelessness would keep you
              crouched there.  If you spring up,
              let it not be against me

but like a weed or a
fountain.  I grant you
the hard spine of your

              childhood.  I grant you
              the frowning arc of this morning.
              If I could I would grant you

a bright throat and even
brighter eyes, this whole hill
of olive trees, its

              calmness of purpose.
              Let me not forget
              ever what I owe you.

I have loved the love
you felt for those gardens
and I would grant you

              the always steadying
              presence of seeds. 
              I bring to that trouble

between us a bell that might
blur into air.  I bring the woods
and a sense of what lives there.

              Like you, I turn to sunlight for
              answers.  Like you, I am
              not sure where it has gone.
 

 

from "3 Bewildered Landscapes”


STARS, SCATTERSTILL. Constellations of people and quiet. 

Those nights when nothing catches, nothing also is artless. 

I walked for hours in those forests, my legs a canvas of scratches,

trading on the old hopes—we were meant to be lost. But being lost

means not knowing what it means. Inside the meadow is the grass,

rich with darkness. Inside the grass is the wish to be rooted, inside the rain

the wish to dissolve. What you think you live for you may not live for. 

One star goes out. One breath lifts inside a crow inside a field.

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Heart

Old fang-in-the-boot trick. Five-chambered
asp. Pit organ and puff adder. Can live
in any medium save ice. Charmed by the flute
or the first thunderstorm in spring, drowsy
heart stirs from the cistern, the hibernaculum,
the wintering den of stars. Smells like the cucumber
served chilled on chipped Blue Willow. Her garden
of clings, sugars, snaps, and strings. Her creamy breasts
we called pillows and her bird legs and fat fingers
covered with diamonds from the mines in Africa.

The smell of cucumber.... Her mystery roses....

Heading out Bandera to picnic and pick corn,
the light so expert that for miles
you can tell a turkey vulture
from a hawk by the quiver in the wing.
Born on April Fools’, died on Ground Hog’s,
he pulls over not to piss but to blow away
any diamondback unlucky enough to be
on the road between San Antonio and Cotulla.

Squinting from the back of the pickup
into chrome and sun and shotgun confection,
my five boy cousins who love me more
than all of Texas and drink my spit
from a bottle of Big Red on a regular basis
know what the bejeweled and the gun-loading
have long since forgotten. And that is:
Snakes don’t die. They just play dead. The heart
exposed to so many scrapes, bruises, burns,
and bites sheds its skin, sprouts wings and fl ies,
becomes the two-for-one sparkler on
the Fourth of July, becomes what’s slung between
azure and cornfield: the horizon.

If you don't believe it
place your right hand on it
from the Pledge
like you've been taught.
 
Feel the hearing so deep. Limbless
and near limbless. Prefers the ambush 
to the hunt. Sets a trap, picks a spot,
begins the vigil. Resorts at times to bluff
and temper. Swallows victims whole.
Tastes like chicken. Tastes like
hope, memory, forgiveness.