The Vault

Little wave
in thought. 

Blank architecture 
that holds me. 

This is a little psalm 
in the moon-

struck snow. 
Thank you,

for I haven’t been 
patient as promised. 

Thank you,
for the desperate

Hopper-esque light. 

There is so little
to hold, I said

as I held it. Each 

of strength 
that entered

my hands.

Parkinson’s Disease: Autumn

When I woke for school the next day the sky was uniform & less than infinite

with the confusion of autumn & my father

as he became distant with disease the way a boy falls beneath the ice,
before the men that cannot save him—

the cold like a forever on his lips.

Soon, he was never up before us & we’d jump on the bed,
wake up, wake up,

& my sister’s hair was still in curls then, & my favorite photograph still hung:
my father’s back to us, leading a bicycle uphill.

At the top, the roads vanish & turn—

the leaves leant yellow in a frozen sprint of light, & there, the forward motion.

The nights I laid in the crutch of my parents’ doorway & dreamt awake,
listened like a field of snow,

I heard no answer. Then sleepless slept in my own arms beneath the window
to the teacher’s blank & lull—

Mrs. Belmont’s lesson on Eden that year. Autumn: dusk:

my bicycle beside me in the withered & yet-to-be leaves,

& my eyes closed fast beneath the mystery of migration, the flock’s rippled wake:

Related Poems

Many-Roofed Building in Moonlight

I found myself
suddenly voluminous,
a many-roofed building in moonlight.
Thought traversed 
me as simply as moths might. 
Feelings traversed me as fish.

I heard myself thinking,
It isn't the piano, it isn't the ears.

Then heard, too soon, the ordinary furnace, 
the usual footsteps above me.

Washed my face again with hot water,
as I did when I was a child.


Washington Square—New York, 1941

When Edward Hopper finishes his painting for the night,
sets the boar bristles to soak in turpentine, wipes the thick
not-yet-crusted-over drips from his smock with a blue rag
and tips his palette up to incubate tomorrow’s luck,

he isn’t thinking of the greenish light from a street lamp,
how it hits plate glass and fractures through it, or the counter’s
corner in an all-night city diner. Most of the time
he is just hungry, already smelling the stew his wife

likes to make from white beans and bacon. His eyes lose focus, 
and his other senses — so long ignored in deference
to saturated color — come alive, more vivid now 
because of their confinement. How clear the little click as

the lamp’s wick sinks below its silver mouth, scratch of bootheels
on the tile stair when he descends. He inhales the evening,
the butcher’s bloody work, stale malt that drifts from a window.
The snowy world receives him: flakes melt and run down his cheeks.

How I Might Sound if I Left Myself Alone

Turning to watch you leave,
I see we must always walk toward

other rooms, river of heaven
between two office buildings.

Orphaned cloud, cioppino poppling,
book spined in the open palm. Unstoppable light.

I think it is all right.
Or do tonight, garden toad

a speaking stone,
young sound in an old heart.

Annul the self? I float it,
a day lily in my wine. Oblivion?

I love our lives,
keeping me from it.