to 5

    on the 5ives




Arcs over the house. Gnarled roots break through ground. Deep down where
roots thin to wisps, the still-growing hair of my ancestors twists into a
braid. They link knotty arms.


a tree branches from both ends

she was a landholder
allotted an inlet of marrow
spelled not to have her thread
cut at a perilous moment


chain up the watchdog, set out dainty foods

one lives as no other, every birth
inscribed in an utterly woven
breath you too will hold
leave the door open
the frame will hold


delirious, I missed my selvedges of air

needling beads in your palm
you said look, there is the ruffled lake
the trilling breast
silver stitches strewn
past the error of midnight


ice, olives, fireflies may be alluring

or your face so big made of little tvs
insistent on arrest I missed myself
passing through the glass to
the piercing of ten thousand layers


of our gifts after this, what is left?

ghost of a cloth, the outline
absence makes, edge of stars
imaginary ancestor threads down
a narrow inlet, little covers
hide the fray, a yearning
for grace to scar the woundıs
unraveled bloom, riddled hole p>


only blood between us, many empty years

when we had words, she spoke the crescendos
of Chopin, Schubert, summer
the room was dark, open to the August porch:
"his hands flew over the keys like birds
his arms stirred the air"
as though now was the sign of loss
everything reminded her
old folded program, yellowed linens, lace
(my history I do not write)
I was a photograph
sitting across from her
we never spoke ourselves


what do you hear in that recollection?

a universe strewn in minute threads
the thrum of infolded worlds
I hear rain dropping through trees
that never reaches the ground
leaves are shaking
the mask of desire suspends itself
as skin separates from the body
is this renewal? seeing in the dark
you must visualize
the room illuminated
I can imagine only rising
action: when the past
intrudes as a face on canvas
opening a snuff box, I say tell me
the story of the red glasses, but he
cannot accept me as I was
no last rites or first—
was it a mistake to permit his gaze?
should I have turned his face to the wall?
a lacemakerıs quick knots and holes
make a dozen universes
co-existing with the visible
to nod us toward the cover, the exposé
that brought us here


the difference between lace and paper is nostalgia

One night our headlights found a saw-whet owl silhouetted on the shining
blacktop as though inviting itself to be held. We thought to stop on the
wet road, scoop it into our hands. Its head nearly half the size of its
body, like a baby. But some part must be mystery, so we drove on.



morning the breeze gleams, blows us ahead of ourselves

   a blue scroll unrolls from the ground
   root and filament
   beyond parched air, burned grass
   hibiscus opens and drops its coral chambers
   even as they intercede for us under elms
   even as they wait, the dead have their own ideas:


      "Leave the cooking and the washing up.
      Set your boat upon water and row to a place
      where trees circle green around you."


         "What I brought forth gave me life.
         What I did not bring forth killed me. "


            "They could not cut enough out of me.
            My nails tore at the tenderest spot.
            My skin was parchment then."


dance, sing. set your boat upon water



Dear One,

You think the shadow completes
its own mark of abandon.
The world outside your door
is not of houses or streets.
Though you enter the clarity of
morning, your hair blows over your face.
Still you see everything.
What do you know besides
fear and despair?
Well, maybe you know
your joy, maybe not.
Always there is more seeing
than knowing, and now
seeing has become a distraction.
This morning on the bridge
if the five senses unite with the wound,
healing may begin.


the same waiting


   wearing out

I was a shadow waiting for my life to begin



Dear One,

You think this is where you live:
crickets skittering in heat, call of the crow
dry roots and dwindling mosses,
moths folded in rocks. The air is full of insects
in a time you cannot control.
You manipulate space as a vast desperation
of silk, an acceptable illusion
obsessed not with the speed of machines
but with unstoppable craving.
And when you have enough,
when will you have enough?
I was a man consumed
and now I am the illustrious dead.
The object unaware of its own abandon
relinquishes itself unknowingly
as a child without trust,
nothing held still, nothing walking away.
Still, cars pass and the street exists by name,
the houses by address.
The rest goes unremarked.



separation is a false integrity

only one path traverses all parts
of the maze, names
of the master-builders erased
friction of feet walking the stones
shadow of my motherıs hair
shaken over my brow stirs
the air, a comet in twilight
binding, unbinding what is loose
at sea: you will raise the boats
you will command the angels—
make a clean breast
awful goddess of mortal speech.




the fray

heather thomas