ShallCross

We are walking along a curve

Observed by the hawk

Completing the arc

For us but not by us

Responding to the gravity

Of the bend as we climb

Toward a jagged ridge

Pages fluttered by the softest

Wind as wind slips through

The folding door

Of a listing phone booth

Across the drawbridge

A store called Her Hands

A club called His Room

An out-of-date flier for

A free seminar for the heart

Angelica is rampant

Egrets flock the treetops

The day wears itself away

Against the barbed fencing

A barge goes quietly off course

Cars are sparser now

Crows are everywhere

Getting bigger louder closer

In a well-kept farmhouse

A lid slams down

On a pounded piano

As the words sink into me

You are still young enough

To adopt a xolo

Write an opera on glass

Bed a chimera

Bedazzle and be devoured

The moonroof in your head

Slowly sliding open

To the scent of oleander

The bad gushing out of you

Things in plain sight things hidden

It doesn’t make any difference

If I could buffer my fall

Not with my body but my breath

Maybe stay awake for

The appearance of a small angel

Clear frozen beautiful

Like someone from Chicago

Living ocular proof

Of an immense force swooping

Swiftly downward to cool

The coils within coils

Having missed the free seminar

By several decades now

Even the namer of clouds is gone

So whatever I thought

Was tender or true

Left my face a network

Of hatchmarks from a mother

Lost in the exclusion zone

Father felled from the feet up

Son whose brown eyes

Are both sharper and softer

Than either of ours

An impossible child

No one could break or resist

Who has begun to beat his own

Diamondback path

To the edge of his fields

To the edge of his life

As the big clouds are rolling in

I try to herd the worst feelings

I ever felt the worst thoughts

The very worst under one

Warped sheet of metal

A nonbeliever dropped to

A pair of knobby knees

Every other thing reminds me

Of you even a tempera

By a seven-year-old

From Down Under titled

The Driver Sits in the Shade

But What About the Horse

It was something you might

Have said to a family waiting

For a taxi to the historic district

Or a gondola to take them

Off the mountain

Even a milk glass

Of field flowers sensed

You entering the room

Before you dropped me off

On a Lower East Side curb

With my rolling bags of grief

And pretty sheer brassieres

It’s starting to seem as if everyone

Were already dead

And looking for my glasses

While Vic plunks out Buckets

Of Rain to a smoke-soaked

Roadhouse of rubes

My disappointment sits

Under the Tree of Disappointment

In a dirty skirt in a ruff

Of dirt the color of dirt

If a hand and it could be my hand

Moves over the bark it touches

Where an arrow passed through the trunk

The mind wills it into reverse

That the shaft of the arrow glide

Soundlessly backward

And the hand it could be your hand

Soothes the welt left by its entry

The air turns the blue of a seldom worn

Dress left in a closet by the woman

Who opened a notebook

To what must have been your hand

It looked like your striking

Script of course it was your hand

That wrote she doesn’t get it

I was never there

Of my own volition

I would have never asked

The grass is strong unlike her

The water unperturbedly furled

The Ladder Tree leans toward me

And then swings out of reach

The ache that will last the rest

Of our lives stiffens into those words

The Tree of Knowledge

Tries to draw off the poison

Without destroying itself

Now who will make the record of us

Who will be the author

Of our blind and bilious hours

Of the silken ear of our years

Who will distinguish our dandruff

From the rest among the gusts of history

Who will turn our maudlin concerns

Into moments of incandescence

Who remember when I was a dirty blond

That hung like a mare’s mane

A blond with an even dirtier mouth

And a pent-up anatomy

Your shoe trailing on the ground

Moving gracefully round me

Trying to stir up the hardpan

So thirsty and hot

Who fill us with the tingle

Of animation and of wonder

Who be there glistening

With sweat and forgiveness

Once the stall has been mucked

And re-mucked

The Tree That Owns Itself appears

Sickly but still blossoms

In Vic’s hometown along with

The eight feet of earth round it

Which is not enough

Sedated to hopefully endure

The dozers and cranes

When the word turbine wanes

I can hear a bee entering a quince

A shoot of bamboo piercing

The skin of the earth

A black ant climbing a stem

The sound of raw umber

Distinct from burnt

The sound of still water

The sound of a towel

Drifting to the ground

The sound of you rubbing

Oil on someone else’s limbs

It is so patently stupid to stick

By a one-stoplight-town dream

To love and be loved to the end

Without ruth or recrimination

Como una estúpida pelicula

We saw at an outdoor theater

In Guerrero standing up

From previews to credits

In a warm downpour

Then I see the quivery

Shadow of my stricken self

Left on a traffic island

At the noisiest intersection

In Buenos Aires

Drowning in the decibels

I don’t want you to count

The conks on my trunk

Under the Tree of Conjugal Love

How this feels to be diminished

By one the one mistaken

For the one who would usher

Us away from the Tree

Of Failure and Shame

Beyond the Tree of Deceit

Unfulfillment and Illusion

Into the limbic woods

Of subtle adults-only stuff

Long-playing side-lit up-flickering

Beyond the Tree of Childish Wishes

Past the Tree of Ten Thousand Mistakes

I’m sure there is a word

In English there is always a word

What is that low-flying short-winged bird

Your mother would know

Even if she can’t call up its name

They fly alone notwithstanding

They are abundant

But they fly only the breadth of a field

Traveling silently

It is early yet you said I’m going back to my study

A hand reaching toward your half-turned head

Pale sun filtering through the cloud floor

Passing over a tangle of tensions and angularities

A silver band suddenly visible in the grass

The perennials by the shed identifying

Themselves by vibration alone

The light discolored as candelabrum

From a preceding life your Junoesque

Hand turning the handle to a door carved

From a Tree of Tomorrows

Don’t shut it I said We lack for nothing

Indissolubly connected

Across the lines of our lives

The once the now the then and again

From ShallCross. Copyright © 2016 by C. D. Wright. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, coppercanyonpress.org.

C.D. Wright grew up in Arkansas and lived in Rhode Island and California. She is the author of over a dozen collections of poetry and prose and is a recipient of numerous awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Griffin International Prize, and the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Her previous book is The Poet, the Lion, Talking Pictures, El Farolito, a Wedding in St. Roch, the Big Box Store, the Warp in the Mirror, Spring, Midnights, Fire & All. C.D. Wright unexpectedly passed away in her sleep on January 12, 2016.