I gather gravel’s crunch, fall
of rain, clocks, a raven’s song, a wave
goodbye, lights switching on, faraway
cars pulling out of driveways—you call
from the side of a road,
say, The starlets have gone—
my arms are migrations—
I’m lost in the snow.
I keep your robin’s egg
in a feather mattress, fall down,
empty chambers—find the ground
green. My breast turns red.
Steal me away, sunshine, shadow—
moon shining through my window.
I fall laughing into leaves. My Mama
snorts like a rhinocerous in heat—weeps,
guffaws, belts. Feeds us sleep
for supper—my Mama
fell from a cliff. I was six. They said, Daina’s
dead. My sister and I—a fortress of mattresses,
down in a locked room where we kiss
asleep, tongue-linked—we try
to be fathers. A shadow at the window—
my mother, The Gate. Ambulances bleed
away through high panes. We don’t need
supper. We learn—Without her—to swallow
rain. When we disappear, I’ll be beside you, sunshine—
in my beak, black feathers and twine.
Listen—the street! Volcanoes break
the earth you’ve shoveled on. You aren’t a saint,
grave, gone—but a nest the rain
bursts, spring hail.
Make dents in your car.
Who will know it was you? Toss the wheel in the air,
it might fall back—dare
to break clouds, my cold, far-
away love. Fray, make explosions
in your body. Forget you and me—
didn’t do, words we didn’t understand.
Be leather beneath feathers—shoes, belts.
Find your feet in that broken blue shell.
On my white choir shirt gripped
in Mama’s fingers at the stroke of twelve locked
in my room breaking windows with a rock
fist. I see her fall: crimson-wristed—
my hands holding her down. A stain—
leaves on the streets of Budapest—
my great-grandfather hanged here. Red
flowers my grandma gathers on the stone.
Skeletal sticks, brittle seeds, her pain
my own—stories without
endings—breath held—not allowed
to bend down—to see his remains.
Please don’t send me away—
and then—hard—down—snowchild in rain.
My grandmother in maples. This fall
she could not stay—I cover her
in weathered leaves. We break, colours
bodies in prayer. There is a way
to love like this—I fall in a high
mattress—branches between sky—
lift myself. My mother walks. Today
it rained: you—sister, lover,
mother—walked to a yellow
grove. Sun hit a swallow’s
nest. It fell to the ground—let go.
Return to Index of Poetry
by Erika Kulnys