Dust and Recollections from The Book of Wind and Brass
A dozen terra-cotta dolls with wrinkled faces
lined like sediment inside a blown-away hill, lines
of earth cut out, the space for a road to become.
He looks into them to interpret a doll’s kind of stillness.
At times he did this sort of thing from the backseat.
Imagining a place to practice being alone. Forests, stones
and clouds, a hill then a bridge with its river running away
like a gray path. All of it passing while his sister puts a tape on
no one listens to. The parents speaking at each other.
The black stars of bugs on the windshield held a kind of sadness
he could think about. In the house where he sometimes lived,
in the room filled with voices, light rattles down the mirror
into roads he drew in dust. The dolls huddle like villagers in snow.
Each one is a voice, a flash. He is bright and dark now, a stone turning
down a well.
2. In Which an Artisan’s Daughter Flees
My Dear Girl,
there is nothing much
like sand I march
to at the bottom of
the hill. In its white
skirt I see heart-
shaped dolls. You
know, some still
come up the hill
to buy, asking me
to help them find
the dead, searching
in the curves. Ore
and minerals turn
out visions. Our religion
has grown strong
if more material, more
They know I make them.
They must. Blast furnace
heat, blowing air
from some dormant
lung I still imagine
with. Your mother is
gone. You would love
this one. Look at the salt
I poured in afterward
onto its final form,
I would say. See the blue
light here. And here.
It flickers like evening
over waves, in flukes
I see from the hut
on the ridge. It almost
dances when I toss it.
I would have followed
3. The Hermit and the Firefly
I watched the early morning’s million fires
gathering the dark, lit the way a city might
appear to the eye of someone on a fishing raft
at night. Each firefly as weightless as a flake of ash,
ebbing in and out of sight. How like a voice
a light could be, I thought, and eased slowly near.
I heard one hum its own idea of flame. I cupped it
finely while it brushed my hand with fear. I said,
follow me over the dirt road, to where the village
becomes the grass, then the grass becomes trees
where you can smell the cherry wine ferment.
The dark of trees becomes the wall I will hike
along. Where the wall crumbles it becomes
the barley hill. The hill becomes the mountain.
The mountain only ends at the sound of the sea.
Listen to the sound of the sea. Follow when I enter
where the stone has been opened by a shadow
so dark we will disappear inside, but shallow enough
so you alone could light it. Light the cave.
I will be the reason. Never mind the fish in my beard.
Nothing will harm you. I wanted to say it again.
Nothing will harm you. But light came sweeping
through the grove and I felt hungry.