Slow Waltz Through Inflatable Landscape

At the time of his seeing a hole opened—a pocket opened—
and left a space. A string of numbers plummeted 
through it. They were cold numbers. 
They were pearls.

And though they were cold the light they cast was warm,
and though they were pearls he thought they were eyes.
They blinked. He blinked back.
Anything that blinks

must be friendly, he thought, until he saw the code
—a string of numbers—carved into their sides
and grew afraid. He tried to close
the space

but it was no longer his own. He tried to close his eyes
but they were no longer his. He tried to close 
his mouth, his hands, his ears
but they were no longer

his, were never his to begin with: this was the time of his seeing.
The world opened. A line began. A tree grew above him
and he thanked it. A sun dawned over the line
and he thanked it.

A building unfolded abruptly and blocked the sun
and he put his hand on its side and thanked it
for the shade, he put his hand
on the sidewalk

and gave thanks to the cement—it was cool and wet and 
took the shape of his hand into it—he put his eyes
at the feet of a woman
and she lifted them,

to her own, and he thanked her, from the inside, and she understood.
Wires swirled above him, straightened out along an avenue
and the lights came on. One moon rose.
A second moon

rose on the windshield of a car and he thanked them both.
This was the time of his seeing. This was the time.
An electric green beetle shuttled out
of the darkness

and landed on his forearm, pulsing, he didn't remove it.
It seemed relieved. Some things work very hard
to leave the ground. Somewhere an infant
called out, sharply,

was comforted into silence. The deep note of an owl opened a tunnel 
in the air. He was growing tired. He didn’t want to stop. 
The world opened. 
A line began.

It traveled out ahead of him and returned, tracing a wave,
white foam gathering, gathering the moonlight,
black water rising into a wall
and he held up his hand:

the wall froze, trembling, the head of a seal
poked through, looked around, withdrew,
he liked the way its whiskers
bent forward

as it withdrew and he liked the way his hand had stopped a wave
so he thanked his hand and moved on,
into the outskirts, the taste
of salt on his tongue,

the taste of brine, it made him thirsty although he had no thirst.
This was the time of his seeing. This was the time.
And the skeletal shadow of a radio tower
loomed to the right of him,

creaking, a red gleam, then nothing, he thought he heard music
passing through him and he was right: 
he was humming something
from a song, 

but he couldn't remember the words, which was fine, 
they were sentimental anyway so he 
thanked the radio tower
and kept moving,

the road turning to gravel, the gravel turning to dust,
the ditches sang with frogs, the ditches were silent,
a pair of yellow eyes waited for him
to pass and so he passed,

calmly, since the beetle was with him, trying to refold its wings,
and the tree was with him, unfolding its leaves,
and a man was with him, walking at his side
—he didn't need to ask

who he was, so he didn't, but in the corner of his eye
he caught a glimpse: he seemed familiar,
he looked like him
and he was,

although a string of numbers was carved into his side.
He asked if he could touch them and he said Yes,
touch them. They were cold numbers.
They were pearls.

He asked if he could kiss him and he said Yes, kiss me, and so he did.
It was a strange kiss. It was a beautiful kiss.
It seemed to last a long time.
It seemed to last a lifetime.

More by Christian Hawkey

Hour with One Hand Inserted in a Time of War

We dug with our hands & hand shovels.
We dug with our spatulate feet.
& with torsos as our only circumference
we dug a maze. A maze of passageways:
Level Three the Maternity Ward, April
with knees on either side of her chin.
Some thoughts no wider than a chest.
Some thoughts no wider than a chest,
heaving. On Level Six a green parrot opened
its red beak & it reached us, seconds later,
as a roar. Our eyelashes cringed, & lashed back.
We named it the Level of Roaring Parrots
& turned back to our work, carrying sewage out
by moonlight, the buckets light each night
& getting lighter. A gas lamp flickered
beside a makeshift waterfall. Ceilings
of soil shook soil. Joo plucked her eyebrows
with her eyes closed, a kind of faith. &
from the mouth of an infant a cracked nipple
slipped—what minerals are my lips
or packed vegetation my eyes—black coals—
how darkness changes darknesses each time
I blink, & blink again, Level One’s filling 
with tear gas, swing through the Level of 
Eternal Foliage & seal it off—April you there, 
Yes, I’m here, October’s on the Level of Yellow Orioles
Warbling High in the Shadowy Summer Woods
& Gungjeong was last on the Level of Indentations
Left Behind by Falling Snow & should we
stand guard at the Level of One Hand Raised
to Block the Lemon Seed of the Sun
or should we push off, down the tunnels,
dig a hole in the side of a wall & wait?

remembering; and with the aid of; ventilation; and production; the poem

must balance; this risk; a tablet; peak plasma; the first alphabet;
with the clinical need; finger-sized; it makes sense; the fingers;
were the first; to make sense; this risk; 31 letters; the flower-visiting species;
as opposed to; dung-feeding; the terminal phase; and the;
distribution phase; never; in my life; the relationship; logarithmic;
propriate or; propion; to make sense; this risk; and the;
as opposed to; had i imagined; that’s business; he was as soft as;
bill nodded; his neck trembling; a tablet; peak plasma; 31 letters;
throwing my body; the flower-visiting species; with the clinical need;
in front of; and with the aid of; that's business; the distribution phase;
and the; on-coming; volunteers; reflected; in the moment of; the fingers
the first alphabet; peak plasma; bill nodded; pooled analyses; in my life;
this risk; the fingers; reappropriated; his neck trembling; numb