Together We Take Aim: acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30 in. Celeste Goyer
Long After Light
We could not come to an end, no matter how far
we walked, how many rinds of the city we saw,
the sun in wavering ribbons, glassed-in and twisting
off windows. Light to the grease
on the concrete. All day, we were in the world
of enthusiastic pigeons bending to cracks, and the enormous
design, and the fumes, and the architecture, those brown gray
stones. Everywhere, the proximity—tired faces,
incautious and possessive in some way
for the wide intersections, the grace
of the city’s deceptions. Complete in networks
of noise, my brother and I, when we had to, turned
against wind lifting graphite from the sidewalks,
to settle to details, to men warm
with waiting to earn the price of a day with successions
of backgammon, or swiped handbags. Of course
we’ve never slept on a sidewalk,
as they have. Of course, I don’t know
what my brother has done, but perhaps we’ve all been
sort of homeless. Somewhere in this insistent arena
someone just failed a fight, another refills
the morphine. City is disappearance—and sleight. More
doorways. And curbs, and let us be clear, every Friday
or Monday, others need to escape the whole hoarse
orbit of languages, complexions,
arbitrary wisdoms. The smell of the scale. The tick
of the sea of such power. And then we were deep down
train tunnels where long slow chords of movement brought us
closer and farther from plenty. How could we leave, but
we did—north to the cemetery
to see the last of our mother. To call love
unbearable and cry to the earth, then come back as the plum-
colored sun dipped down, seaming its diligence, handing off
hope to the neon. And we saw the city
muffle such emptiness with its own grand expanse.
The Year All We Have is a Small Map
Rosehips have opened their luscious pink mouths.
And loaded with orange, the paintbrush scrape
a quavery blue sky.
The ground is deep-set.
This bronze afternoon turns to donkey heat. Dirty fields
with trailers, lonely, squat, sharply recessed.
The warm body needs to learn what is taught.
The body in such weather: all salt, crack, thrown back.
We’ll home in a hurry to weigh
each unruly light, pulling open
an empty suitcase, eighty photos of rocks.