if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom”

From A Blessing’ by James Wright


All Most Some None

i. all
At the art gallery, we look at
a wax sculpture of three peacocks.
It’s dripping down from the ceiling toward us,
a melting upside-down birthday cake of pride. 
You’re sick and waiting for a phone call from your doctor.
I want to tell you about all the things I’ve seen in museums:
Charlotte Bronte’s tiny mourning shoes embroidered with hair, and
marzipan sculptures of Elvis and fairy tale villains in Budapest.
An enormous golden orb outside Mozart’s childhood home,
all the mirrors in Versailles, where you’re always catching
some refracted version of yourself bent around a million tourists.
Dead things preserved in jars, hundreds of paintings, artifacts 
whose meaning we can only guess at through kaleidoscopes. 
Look, I want to say, things last all the time.
ii. most
At the top of the dunes, I think 
about the time I flew back to you across this lake. 
We laid in the dark and I couldn’t
talk because the tiny piece of ice 
in my throat was just for me.  

Now it’s winter and the lake is frozen over.
Huge white swoops of snow piled like whipped cream, 
pointing up to grey skies, a single sunbeam like this is
a painting by a Dutch master. 
I see heads pop up, people sliding down the ice hills, 
pressing their luck. Underneath the lake is moving. 

We were here in summer but not like this:
we drove down Main Street, meandering among
the barely-clad bodies of summer people.
I don’t think you liked it here but then
you never saw it in the winter.
iii. some
I catch you everywhere:
bits of you in the flash of someone’s smile,
how they tilt their head.
After all this time I know I don’t remember the real you anymore
and instead what I catch is the feeling.
Uncomplicated and so untrustworthy —
a train pulling into the station as scheduled,
an offered hand on a patch of ice,
a reluctant grin crinkling into wrinkles.

At the end of every fresh heartache, again and again
I relive our almosts.
I ask and you reach up to get me the peanut butter,
call my name down the stairs,
tell me you’re taking off your glasses,
watch me as the train comes into the station. 
I hang my understanding of what it means to be in love
on the memory of you gluing glitter to your shoes. 

I thought there’d be another train coming.  
iv. none
Thirteen years ago, or another lifetime,
he squeezed my arm and someone saw.
It felt good to belong to him even in misunderstanding.
Crammed in that little room where we had all those parties,
I knew what it looked like but it
wasn’t that exactly. 
Restless fingers tapping on denim knees,
sarcastic jokes just on the edge of cruelty,
a possibility blooming and fading 
like a bruise disappearing.  


An Owl’s Facial Disk is Made of Concave Feathers, Which it can Adjust

The night after I lost you, the owl appeared. She rode on a gust past my window, a shimmer of white, but I never once thought – ghost

When I returned to work, she visited again. Wide-eyed, she perched on my ledge, her talons gripping tight, like my fists in my pockets. I wondered if her whisper-thin bones ached with the effort. 

She appeared once more after my birthday dinner, after I’d smeared away my obligatory makeup, but before I’d committed to pressing my too-clean skin into my pillow. She pushed her face against the glass, showing me her mask. Letting me know she could also see mine.


The Poem as Living Inheritance: An interview with Joseph Fasano



To cultivate distance
between dreams
and the candlelit
of mistakes,
to walk by as if
they are the curbed
furniture, to sit
with the being-
ness of the unroomed
couch, the mattress
on gravel, the table
upended for stability
when gusts come, to bless
the ground upon which
our bared breaking rests.
End of Becomings