You said bears walk in the wealthy hamlet of Aspen . don’t we say lumber when it comes to bears?
the verb itself the journey we imagine the bear encounters in the topographical skull of its bigger
mind . a man sits on his back deck to cough up his smoker’s phlegm near dawn . a wracking sound
shudders across backyards . obscures the sonorous buzzing I’ve grown accustomed to : insects sheathe
the morning in their bugginess . like so many jewels, birds will join in, start with a few calls : a warble,
then a chirrup enlarges to a syntax supple with sound . I will not call them plaintive or enchanted . no
ideas to attach them to . though our mouths may turn lonely in the flush morning of our greed . I rose
at midnight from the bed where we once lay . or is it laid ? my grammar sticky . our lies having reclined
all around us . through the open door a fox without an adjective appeared one night . my same wildness
staring back . in the end, you did not lumber away . in the creaturely grammar of this world, a fox has fleet
feet . a silvered pelt . your light feet fox-turning you sheer as dream . everything about us instantaneous .
we are immense . without cause & often ineffectual . the hide of who we are disappearing . only
ourselves in the skin of the beloved .
These bones through which you enter the inert long ago . on the trail, fox bones mistaken for
tinder . solitary & briny as the disarticulated sex in that far away Mykonos . rooftops edge the
seaside ridge like the knobs on a spine . before we had gone there, did I really know you ? your
face murky, unclear . further uphill, possum bones : a tail like pink eraser heads being steered
by a thin trace of carrion beetles . time-lapsed in the shifting late August grass . what can I say
about the big picture ? a hollow distance opened between us . my memory of the smells like bad
patchouli . once we got to Santorini, you were dissatisfied . wondered aloud if we’d made a mistake .
underground in the ruins of Akrotiri, we saw the first aqueducts . some night terror throttled through
my body leaving me off at the ground floor . your back solid, turned away . tourists thronged on the
volcanic ash beaches, mostly nude . a portly German went crustacean-pink . read a book standing up,
his small member shaded by his belly . he aimed himself, shadow lengthening, lapping the edges of our
betrothal . I crossed my arms over my breasts in the photograph you took, a Cycladic figurine . feeling
fat though I was small then too . I fail now to remember all the bodies I have occupied . under leaf-mold,
bird bones as if immolated . in a past life regression I was a citizen of Akrotiri, stood phallus-proud on the
shore . filled the stone house of my marriage with the kind of mind-fuck you did for our next ten years . in
Paros, you walked off angry . left me for three days alone . did I long for you ? no . I hiked the white-ribbed
landscape in wonder . in Delphi, the gold-pressed minotaur was found a century later under paving stones .
I knelt at roadside shrines, salt on my lips . I stop now on the trail . bend once again to look at these small
theaters . the body’s diorama : our alienating and plush insides . we said we loved each other once . then
became strangers again .
Fathers die, & mothers . sometimes before they are ready . usually before we are . your mother
at 85 . my father at 58 . sometimes dark matter tumbles down sky-worn, imitating clouds . the
stitchery where trees once were . graves open and release the owls we have forgotten . train cars
pitch forward . carry the human faces, blank and blinking . overhead, planes hold humans upright
in seats as we spool through the past . homebound to Hartsfield an image floats piecemeal from
the mind bin : how my father holds his limbs so still sitting next to me . doesn’t know exactly what
my boyfriend had just done . or why I called him . bruises must be gathering at my neck . plush
majestic peonies : a palimpsest or a grim joke, a choker . my boyfriend held me down so long
myopic stars exploded in the dark universe of mind . on the back-stoop, I don’t invite my father
in . his eyes saturate with blue . didn’t I dream my father years after he died ? the two of us flat out
on a field of grass next to the train tracks . trains dopplering past our bodies . our mouths open to
laugh into a pulsating rain . we laughed so hard we merged . trains float and pitch over every
inviolable wonder . we travel towards it .
Amy Pence authored the chapbook Skin’s Dark Night as well as three collections: The Decadent Lovely; Armor, Amour; and the just-released hybrid book on Emily Dickinson, [It] Incandescent (from Ninebark Press). She lives in Atlanta. Links to other works can be found at amypence.com.