Spell to Locate the Unreachable

Sarah Messer

As no assistance could be expected
of the ocean, I turned to the trumpeting
tunnel of sky and rummaged
the tops of plum birch turning
their leaves like coins, then
to the tumbler sweating
on the porch rail. The sky,
the color of whale oil. The wind,
a box of uncolored letters. And so
I was gris-gris with my lichen hair
and moonstone wound
around my neck, a raccoon
stuck under an electric
fence, or a photo showing
only one wick at a séance.
How to unpin this particular
corner of sky? I sing
an antler song to find
you, but there’s no trace
of the sky in the sky. I’ll have to
collapse the air to find you.

More by Sarah Messer

Directions for Lines that will Remain Unfinished

Line to be sewn into a skirt hem
held in my mouth ever since the  unraveling 

Line beneath a bridge
for years without hope I stretched my arms into the river searching for you

Line to be sent to the cornfield
history is a hallway of leaves.

Line written for electric wires
your voice inside the no history, sitting still

Line for future people
inside the work, only my empty teeth

Line from Maharaj
Presently you are in quietude. Is it on this side of sleep or on the other side? 

Line that cannot be read because of its darkness
impossible walk under weight of honey
away from your hands that break me in half 

Line addressing President Lincoln
when the handle and blade are gone, what remains
of your axe? 

Line to be run over by a lawn mower
afraid of everything and to be of no use.

Line for a distant midnight dog-pack
because I can never speak it

Line to be sewn into a shirt collar
the streak of your finger across the hood of the car

Line for a stone growing old
a sunburst that lands inside a flower

Line written only with your mouth
desire is a trick ghost

Line for the garden weeds
slowly I am nearer to you

Line describing the better qualities of monsters
are we afraid of what we wished for? 

Three lines written for bears
inside cells, water, trees, I am meaningless
darkness and light wind like breath on fur
I carry the circling cities inside me

Line for a leaf blown into the hair of the Master
seeing you, I want no other life

Line for a mouse
to die like that, held in your hands

After the Election

Moonlight slept quiet beneath the grandstand,

like flower petals, like highway snowstorms, like each thought
not of November or battlefields. My moping climbed

the Pegasus inside my chest which sped me to you
in this last century of petrol, with my socialism wanting.

I dropped an ocean in the penny. It was November. It was
lost. My wish slept beneath the Pegasus, quiet

as a petrol station or the monotony of socialism,
as if each lesson was not separate from the thought,

but from the ballot box. Like a snow globe of wanting.
Like wanting thoughts not to be octaves. Not free

of the ocean, but of the battlefield. Like a grandstand
sleeping in moonlight, its flower petal confetti, its metal

steps like ballot boxes, sleeping empty now
beneath a dropped ceiling of balloons.

Prayer from a Mouse


Dimensionless One, can you hear me? 
Me with the moon ears, caught 
in ice branches?
	
Beneath the sky’s long house,
beneath the old snake tree,
I pray to see even a fragment
of you—
 			whiskers ticking
 
a deserted street,
a staircase leading 
to the balcony
of your collarbone.

Beloved King of Stars, I cannot 
contain my animal movements.

For you I stay like a mountain.
For you I stay like a straight pin.
		
But in the end, the body leaves us 
its empty building. 

Midnight petulant
as a root cellar. Wasps crawling  
in sleeves. I sleep 

with my tail over 
my face, enflamed.

Oh Great Cataloguer 
of Snow Leaves, I pray 
that you may appear 
and carry every piece 
of my fur in your hands.

Related Poems

Individual Time

I'm calling out from pictures to your vision creating it
turn right, that dream building cutglass window in door.
Automatically inside their apartment, you don't have
to get there. This is before the lost sacred corpus vision,
someone says Look at my author photo. I
don't really want to I'm turning to defiant metal
not a dream part, can you see it where the movement of
images turns back towards me I want a
different, how I'm portrayed because you can't
see me, visage. Look at me please. The soul is so thick
larger than the portrait what you'd call madonnaesque,
and then there was more hoax a view as I am
the rose here. And you never wanted to be that, did I?
I was waiting to see what I would be. Blackness
eats you but your soul eats it without your knowing that
figure, because it is causing your appearance to the world.
They arrange me in clothes of Easter, or of
the first day of classes, but I'm projecting pigment
cracked gold on fire, thinking braver thoughts.
It takes courage to get to the ancient altar
of the moment where I create individual time.
The picture body untremblingly stares large-eyed
I also create the tablets of exponential seeing: it brightens
all around it, as I'm the apparatus of what there is to be;
and I am making it, my time visibly becoming me.