Osseous, aqueous, cardiac, hepatic— back from bone the echoes stroke, back from the halved heart, the lungs three years of weightlessness have cinched to gills. From a leather chaise, the astronaut’s withered legs dangle, as back they come, sounds a beaked percussion hammer startles into shape. The physician cocks his head and taps—exactly as a splitter halves his slate, the metamorphic rock chisel-shocked, then shocked again, halved and halved, until a roof appears, black as space. I’m gaining ground, he says, the astronaut, who knows, from space, earth is just a blue-green glow, a pilot light he circled once, lifted, swiftly flown above the rafters and atmospheres, half himself and half again some metamorphic click, extinct as memory. I’m gaining ground, he says, and back it comes, his glint of cloud-crossed world: a pilot light or swaddled leaf, green in the season’s infancy.
When the cow died by the green sapling, her limp udder splayed on the grass like something from the sea, we offered our words in their low calibrations— which was our fashion—then severed her horns with a pug-toothed blade and pounded them out to an amber transparency, two sheets that became, in their moth-wing haze, our parlor windows. They softened our guests with the gauze-light of the Scriptures, and rendered to us, on our merriest days, the sensation of gazing through the feet of a gander. In time we moved up to the status of glass—one pane, then two—each cupping in proof of its purity a dimple of fault, a form of distortion enhancing our image. We took the panes with us from cottage to cottage, moth-horn and glass, and wedged up the misfitted gaps with a poultice of gunny and wax. When woodsmoke darkened our bricks, we gave to the windowsills a lacquer of color—clear blue with a lattice of yellow: a primary entrance and exit for light. And often, walking home from the river and small cheese shop, we would squint their colors to a sapling green, and remember the hull of that early body, the slap of fear we suffered there, then the little wash of recovery that is our fashion—how we stroked to her bones a cadenced droning, and took back from her absence, our amber, half-literal method of sight.