21 May 2009

Mark Wunderlich

[from Mark Wunderlich's Voluntary Servitude, Graywolf, 2004]

Town, Gone

He touched the back of his neck,
forked his fingers through red hair,
and the trees breathed their dioxide in the street,

and the gulls waved their cuts,
in the air, and I asked if this
was what he meant, the static,

and he nodded, and I looked down
at my hands touching
the only skin they'll own,

and he moved to touch my hair,
hair grown pale in the winter, silver
like the iced trees in half-light

and I asked what could break
or trouble the form
our lives had taken and he said

he didn't know, but I knew
that this was how it would be
and the town in my head

where my inventions moved
in their elaborate machines, their dramas
and re-enactments, their closing doors

and sweeping, their papers
rifled through and tested for accuracy,
that town began to empty

until the room was full of that population,
and they were of me and I
was of them, and they

broke into pieces, a windshield
gone through, and left
in fragments through the window

I cracked to let out the smoke,
left me looking down at my hands
and I knew I'd never hear them again

and that they were the smoke
and -- town gone, vast catastrophe --
I was what they left behind in the fire.

Read It's Your Turn to Do the Milking, Father Said @ Post Road Magazine

Buy Mark Wunderlich's book @ Amazon

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