Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: Simon Perchik

Step by step you limp behind
yet it’s the Earth
that’s whittled down

holds on to the scraps
as mornings and the little stones
these graves heat with sunlight

–you’re warmed the way one shoe
lights up when it touches the dirt
and everywhere the day begins

smaller and smaller with no room
for moonlight –you become pieces
carried along, covering the ground

once some summer evening
lit by a slow walk arm in arm
to keep it from falling

–these dead come here
by listening to what’s left
is rising as it cools.

To warm this dirt the way these dead
hold on to each other –single file
brought here as darkness and longing

–night after night a small handful
then another and this hillside
is pulled along, rescued

from all the days after tomorrows
though there’s not a hint your shadow
can be unwound just by a wave

to find more room for mornings
–nothing’s changed, a single thread
still circles the sky

for the day you are losing
letting it tug at the little cries
that do not come back.

You dust the way this nail
half iron, half boundary stone
and though the frame is wood

it takes this rag to heart
covers it with little flowers
still yellowing –look

it’s just an old photograph
–the real thing is the glass
not yet amber and her arms

still move, are reaching out
to dry –she is facing you
smiling, holding you closer

and closer, coming down
wrapped in a damp cloth each year
softer, used to your hand over hand

loosening her dress
letting it fall off the wall
as sleeves and emptiness.

Ice and the afternoon
reaches shore the way each grave
grows a far-stone and nights

that have no ships, no barges
and salt no longer beautiful
–you come here alone

to feel at home, naked
sure the sunlight is melting
flowing over her, darkening

in the small stones
that never ripen
cluttered this sea

with your fingers still wet
carried off on a plank
held close while you wait

for her to become water
let you drink and her mouth
freeze with you in it.

Because rain no longer dries
these finger-bones reach up
the way all hillsides are forced open

just to water a single fire
with open eyes –are emptied
by winds, pull the sky along

letting it fall away
as cries and riverbanks
though every tree now

is hollowed out –you
are not buried here
there’s no wood on the ground.


Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, Forge, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. His most recent collection is The Gibson Poems published by Cholla Needles Arts & Literary Library, 2019

Leave a Reply

Related Posts