The Rusty Toque | Issue 4 | Poetry | February 15, 2013
tornado the father
baby the still eye
picture cows and tragedy
then cow does fall
but baby keeps growing
pink hand inside muffled drum
swirl of leaves in forest
becomes an alp
stretches toward clouds
so cow topples off
after a sculpture by Bai Yiluo
for Carmel Purkis
We so often use our mouths to carry birds
We so often carry pitchforks
History is holes to fill
We so often carry birds
Our heads are marble busts in a museum
We hardly remember the limbs that are missing
We so often use the wind for a mouth
What is missing is also pitchforks
The mouth is birds made of pitchforks
There is a museum for farmers
Look through the mouth at the haystack of birds
filled with holes which we think of as flying
We so often use our mouths to carry birds
We could carry pitchforks or kings
We spit birds like the history of birds
Here is a ticket to the museum
DUSK. DUST. NIGHT. DAY. KNIFE.
Of course we don’t know where he is, Raoul Wallenberg gave himself another passport, became someone else, then disappeared into space. A curled brown leaf in a bed.
He spoke as they were about to board, gave each word a new identity. Now we don’t know what they mean. A long ditch running beside the road. Home.
Over there, behind the moon. There he is. Over there. Behind time. Behind the words. Fingers intertwined, thumbs churning like a river mill, sun rising over the horizon, climbing over the field. A scurrying in the twilight. Owls. Mice. Us. A couple memories in a sandwich bag but they had no such things. A woolen blanket folded over and over. Eight times the limit of folding. Eventually it disappears, was never there.
Fill my veins with sap. Put my blood in a tree. The branches move slowly in the slow wind. Autumn light at the end of the fingers, red, gold, brown. Curling. Beautiful when the sun rises. When I am made into logs, a chair, this floor. Dance on me. Hide underneath me. Hush. Listen for owls.
Without motivation, the hand is cut off. Stories told by the bakehouse. Childbed. Midnight. A mandolin in the skin of a wolf, creeping through the mountain carrying only flour, an extra hand. Blood drains through a wicker basket. Secrets.
Moon’s light is silver. A tongue. A wolf back. The shine of a hand, sneaking through mountains and they in their grey uniforms, hissing, pointing guns, not knowing.
Inside the baked loaf, a passport, money, an eyeball.
Filtering names through trees. Seven layers of clothing. Skirt. Shirt. Coat. Shirt. Pelt. Leaves. Bark. Dress. Shirt. Dusk. Dust. Night. Day. Knife. Stars. Hush. A shoe busy with insects. A morsel fingered in a pocket. A new planet. Backwards and forwards. Sleep.
Night is a length of train cars, morning shuddering down the days, drifting smoke. Razors and breath hidden in lapels, rabbit skins, an unshaven face.
Father cigarette. Pipe Mother. A hidden cave. An eyeball. The city folded eight times and bound by streets. Under the corn, earth roads, sky fields. What they don’t know is: the tree has our names.
A landscape of skies and a river. A torn newspaper photo with no face. A passport above the desk. A Vienna of beds. A Vilnius. When you cease to be who you are, you don’t become someone else.
Owls or branches in an old song. Oxen, cobblestones, espresso in twilight or memory. The heart heals the knife. An old potato. You fold and refold the words but they don’t disappear. A river forming over time or through memory, but less wet.
The ship is silver and it travels into space, the galaxy a smear of light-spangled tomato sauce against a Baltic blue sky. Shh. He writes his own passport. We may not know what it means.
GARY BARWIN is a writer, composer, multimedia artist, educator and performer. His publications include five poetry collections, including Franzlations: The Imaginary Kafka Parables (New Star) written with Hugh Thomas and Craig Conley, The Obvious Flap (with Gregory Betts, BookThug.), and The Porcupinity of the Stars (Coach House). He is also the author of two fiction collections, a collaborative novel, and several books for children. His blogs are serif of nottingham (Tumblr) and serif of nottingham (BlogSpot) and his website is Gary Barwin. Recordings of his work can be found at PennSound. Barwin currently lives in Hamilton, Ontario with his family where he is being worked over by Yiddish for Pirates, the great Canadian Jewish pirate novel. Website: www.garybarwin.com