A bringing across: to bear, to burden. We are
only land locked in the strictest sense, with
strict being a measure in mountain mass. To
burn. Thieves, in tiredness,
in thirst, have stolen
from death, from frozen solid. They will be returned
only once we accept the pluperfect.
What false stepping stones these consonants
offer. A source language
laden coarse with silt, with a slitting of the tongue:
to turn, to tarnish. What has happened once
can continue to happen: to hunt, to haunt.
The density of our decibel will not float.
A language with three tenses is a body without sinew,
silence, or snare.
ROVNĚ A DOPRAVA
Beneath a row of witches, she sweeps
the sidewalk in front of her souvenir
shop. I’ve wandered
past my map’s reach.
We are alone
with the cobblestones and cold
light of streetlamps sweating
copper shadows on our faces.
Her back bent
more fantastic than the gnarled handle
in her grasp. Each evening breeze breathes
into the pulpit of puppets above.
I am not
afraid of women made mythical and immoral,
spinsters with snarled spines.
I fear instead the loud and taunting thoughts
of the lost, those who cannot find home
without being shown where to go.
Promiňte, I ask
permission to break the silence
the street has laced
like a shawl around her shoulders.
Kde je metrem?
She answers in a spell of syllables indiscernible to my ears.
Finally she casts a glance far into the dark.
Rovně a doprava.
Doprava, I repeat, my tongue an apprentice
in unfamiliar sounds.
Díky, I offer.
Hezký večer into the hazy
navy of the night. Doprava. Straight
and to the right.
COMMONLY MISSPELLED WORDS
vocabulary: a splintered womb and the dream
in which i am a wolf, stomach stone-
laden and sinking. this is not to drown;
this is to reconnect to some solid thing.
holding my mother’s face,
i smooth away the shimmer
from her lids, shadow staining
my thumbs like bruised moth wings.
semantic: what a lazy metaphor—this bridge—
as if one thing can always reach
another with the easy fate of a few
tonight i miss two men,
who are the same man. once,
he pronounced “burial” like “burrow.”
once, he taught me to say “depleted” in a way
my fingers could understand. once,
comma splice: it is simple to mistake
hibernation for a funeral.
when this happens, say “river”
instead of “pride.” orient grief
as north. proceed from there.