Bone-spur, stirrup of veins—white colt a tree, sapling bone again, worn to a splinter, a steeple, the birch aground in its ravine of leaves. Abide with me, arrive at its skinned branches, its arms pulled from the sapling, your wrist taut, each ganglion a gash in the tree's rent trunk, a child's hackwork, love plus love, my palms in your fist, that trio a trident splitting the birch, its bark papyrus, its scars calligraphy, a ghost story written on winding sheets, the trunk bowing, dead is my father, the birch reading the news of the day aloud as if we hadn't heard it, the root moss lit gas, like the veins on your ink-stained hand— the birch all elbows, taking us in.
Skating in Harlem, Christmas Day
To Mary Jo Salter
Beyond the ice-bound stones and bucking trees, past bewildered Mary, the Meer in snow, two skating rinks and two black crooked paths are a battered pair of reading glasses scratched by the skater's multiplying math. Beset, I play this game of tic-tac-toe. Divide, subtract. Who can tell if love surpasses? Two naughts we've learned make one astonished 0— a hectic night of goats and compasses. Folly tells the truth by what it's not— one X equals a fall I'd not forgo. Are ice and fire the integers we've got? Skating backwards tells another story— the risky star above the freezing town, a way to walk on water and not drown.