for Matt Henriksen
Along our arms we mark time, mark
the hours and seconds as flesh trusses
slow the body, withholds, keeps us
together from flooding out into
aether. Let’s pray there was a bolt
of lightning and no moment of sadness or
grief or awareness. Along the trail,
we know now to tip a cap or ring a bell
or holler. Or maybe making
everyone laugh disrupts the unrestrained
division of cells, our bodies fighting
to hold on longer before bursting,
pressure equalizing between us
and the universe we sieve into.
In movies, the hero always smiles before they die.
A wide vista opens, spreads out, a lover—
the road unimagined, I realize.
In a requiem of hours, the tempo slows
slightly to create the proper mood, the dirgesense
of demise looming like a sleepless night pressure fit
into the walls of the canyon by a flooding river.
Another world is not hard to see
while your sins are thick in veins.
Or how to choke on your ghosts
is the modern approach
to a science not yet dead. I drew a heart
across the ground where I wanted everything to grow and seeded
the field so that we might talk of it, to it.
What scares me about the body
are the things which fail without
warning: the lungs wilt, the pustule
of blood that bursts or scatters or
mimics violet backed starlings
in murmuration. The eyes contain
all the aneurysms a nightmare provides
until the world is the kind of darkness
one cannot invent.
Or the way in which
there was no reverberation
against the empty walls
of the tiled room
before the miscarriage
or a collapse of institutions
is known as the present. Whatever it is
that prayer is to do, I do not argue
Maybe it’s the job of a poet, once
in a great while, to draw a red line
around the flesh that’s rotting, to identify
the tears in the canvas that need patching
to appear fresh again. Maybe what a poem
can do is wink its way into the arteries
leading to the heart of a thing, to
cause the rupture that no one ever
hears until the train’s roar has quieted
outside. Maybe a poem stops being a
poem once the body builds its white
blood cells around its acceptance. Maybe
a poem ought to fight the organs of
the body until either collapses.