I’ve cut from summer—

       as if a swatch were possible—

       not collage exactly—

Gnats hovered above dirt

       path between chaparral

       (pretty word—Spanish—“evergreen oak”)—

I envy the photo its frame—

       what I meant to say—

       to walk through gnats

Curtained between trees

       smelled “skunky”

       (his word)—

I followed him—

       no one had said “love” yet—

       high bluff cliffing the Pacific—

Spine of shadow

       we walked—

       temperate in the sense

Air felt without temperature—

       “riparian” gleaned from signage

       (prettier even—rīpa—“bank”)—

Because the near river entered ocean

       I’ve cut from it—

       the way the photographer knows what lies

Beyond the frame—

       context is terrible weight—

       to describe the water’s texture of

Gestures would never end—

       an inch of surface

       surfeit sense (“a detail overwhelms

Entirety,” writes Barthes)—

        his storied thigh

        scarred just so

(Coin-sized pock marking


        & tilted toward me—

Each image cropped but the frame—

        a lifetime—

        a coastline—

What is meant by context : to pose

        ruins the shot with intention—

        eye the I, he the camera—

Big Sur River a lagoon where it enters ocean—

        & there a willow grove—

        we waded out, we saw tide

Lift river & slip in—

        eddies edging the upriver bend—

        the privacy of being entered is

What I felt privy to—

        salt driving tide under- & upriver both—

        it came to us as counter-current—

Water swelled within itself—

        more forceful than the river

        entering itself

was pressure against my skin—

        as when I held his cock & his body

        bodied forth there—

Tender force


        his need to enter me—

An image pierced by the ear—

        a raptor over

        coastal fields—

Santa Lucia Mountains behind us—

        what is “lyric”—

        hawk, we thought—

(Raptus from rapere, “seize” or “rape”)—

        its passing shadow triggered

        chill as it touched us—

Crow-sized, a harsh loud scream—

             the little book fell open, broken-spined—


I imagined its passage over the field

            a ring of blackened grass—

            rust-colored tail broad, fanned, tipped with white—

A “sting, speck, cut” or “little hole” in the image—

            the attention taxonomy requires

            amounts to a species of singing—

A dark leading inner edge on the underwing—

            what is “lyric”—

            “subversive when pensive, when it thinks”—

(What he meant by frame)—

            the image came to him as the desire to have

            photographed the “right” thing—

He the I, eye the camera—

            what we saw as “beauty” meant only


Swallows looped & dived to drink—

            “I should dump your sorry ass in the water,” he said—

            to relate that which is spoken of

To the spatial & temporal context of the utterance—

            “Why do I always hold back?”—

            without it the image can’t live—

A list of possible swallows—

            Tree, Bank, Cliff, Barn, Violet-green, Rough-winged—

            the migratory flyway’s dwindling returns—

Without a frame the image

            a lens of air—

            the affair & the photograph

Sharing formal constraints—

            time, chance, light



            the camera’s aperture opened—

            neither of us would say, had said it—

Kept trying to stop meaning

            from taking final shape—

            a series, a story,

a pillow thrown against a mirror—

            one vista after another

            marked by signage : fence, bench—

By foot, by car, on credit, cash—

            socks impossibly burred—

            his sweaty black cap—

I gathered the grass from his hand—

            how “panicle” trembles

            (panus, “thread wound on a bobbin”)—

Sweetly its crown to my face—

            (pēnos, “web”)—

            pedicel, spikelet, glume & lemma—

Little grammar of attraction—

            (What is “lyric”)—

The book fell open on its broken spine

            (florere, “to flower”)—

            “It’s quakinggrass,” I said—

                                                                             [ Big Sur, June 2006 ]

From Companion Grasses (Omnidawn, 2013) by Brian Teare. Copyright © 2013 by Brian Teare. Used with the permission of the author.