a freight train breaks the mist of august dawn. in the ruins of a lighthouse, the sounds of nectar and pollen thrum. bundles of loosestrife envelop the rubble. broken bricks and driftwood, water watching the yellowing of the mountainside. someone has left a cairn of glass here. i sit and wait for the weathervane to raise its legs and stumble off along the river's edge, having grown weary of terrestrial life. my spirits carry like canal. leaves in sand, leaves in sand. put a coin on my tongue before i sleep. polaroids of us - a roadside rest stop, a cafe in the desert. i always dream of forlorn romance.
ii. wharf bones
i slip into the underbrush, ensconced at the edge of high tide. a row of ragged pylons stands in the water. inklings quiver through the air, shades of teal and celadon. i find an effigy half-buried in the stones. the riverbank is spun with thread, a web of dust, an armature.
i slip my words underneath the driftwood. harbingers carry the wind on their barge, a watery passage, bedrock evader. the sound of droplets on a sail. desire cut like sunstruck fog, dissolved like yearning dreams. down a pedestal. i carve rust into an anchor, burning flags into lichen. anoint with the salt of an eyelid.
iii. taken in the tall grass
shaken and stirring, shattered by a gray wind. the air is crowded with unfriendly filaments. somewhere the rain falls, feeding a swollen reflecting pool. let the creases breathe. the doorframe, the fever rest, the harvest festival, dim lights on my periphery. i pull my scythe through the thistle, sickle raker. i bind up bundles of grain. in the shadow of the cable car, red-lichen stream banks and prairie grass. a bridge appears below the waterfall.
iv. riverboat historian
she runs her hand through sand and rubble, shells and rhizomes. the shore is a capsule of bygone eras. distended seed pods hang from the catalpas, groping for the earth. carrot flowers spell in spirals. for all the tales she has collected, intertwining oral histories, she still feels apart from the world in some irrevocable way. not this world - not the mallows and the driftwood, not the graceful turning of the seasons, but the web of systems that populate its surface. she lifts a shard of beach glass to her eye, scanning the hills with a naive gaze.
v. bells in the ruins
i stumble heat-drunk along the shore, in the shadow of oaks and shattered brickworks. pieces of a city congregate across the water. this far from the sea, the estuary is mostly saltless, but an unmistakable note of brackish air hovers over the stony beach. colonies of water chestnut heave themselves onto land. off-world transmissions, the thrumming of wasps and cicadas. a mirage descends on the cove. i watch as the water cuts through the base of the peninsula, splitting this place off as an island. the river becomes another place - rusted pipelines and concrete henges, stone outcrops among the rapids, stranded mimosa trees. i follow the crumbling battlement into an imagined past.
i. recollections from a floating place
i go to where the stones have split. the sky verges on rain, warped and buckling. green-grey mountains like lichen. my legs dangle over the chasm's edge. this world is an enjambment, a cloud of poplar leaves, a circular rhizome. travelers move unseen through the fog.
friends on other islands, bounded by mist and driftwood, by static that blurs communication. our worlds hurtle at a standstill. my other selves are here with me, carrying out the same rituals. do they know something i don't, that i've forgotten? i forget that i too am someone's other self.
ii. diptych, august 17th
in the dream, i am driving a boat at night. i can't tell if i am on the sea, or on a sheet of clouds far above it. there is a grim tower of metal. guided by the harsh beam of a searchlight, i find my way to land - a shore inhabited by ghosts and quiet demons. i slip between the lines of their gazes.
in the dream, the field is suddenly inky dark, as if the sky skipped over dusk. we could have sworn the sun was setting just minutes ago. there are ruins here, laid bare in the cast of a flashlight. grains bend in the wind.
the hurricane came and cracked the poplars, filled the culverts with rain, shook the runners of the clubmoss forest. i tremble like television static. the wind is a salvo of radio waves and jumbled images, my skin a web of nerves to sensitive and too tangled. i cull a landscape from the sound. i learn to paint on the inside of my eyelids.
iv. stygian threshold
i find scattered cairns among the sticks and soil. sun death slips through space, across feathering of the leaves. i wait under the doorway of my forgetting. asphodel apartments loom across the river like slate clouds, laundry hanging from their windless balconies. there was something i had meant to do here.
i unbury the scars left by meteors and fissures. i submerge into the trauma of the earth, and find my own wounds growing into new eyes, new mouths, new ears.
v. that nothing be lost
there are statues everywhere here. i met my wearying in three-story reliquary, dust-smitten and smelling of camphor. amber-colored vases and moth-bitten camel coats. there is a chapel somewhere the roads don't go. men stare and eat my skin away.
vi. learning to hear electromagnetic waves
a dweller of stones, a keeper of sea shells and moss. i cut an un-maze into the rock face. tiny insects calcified in place, paper wings half-dissolved into the earth, chicory clamoring at the edges of the garden, half-buried glass under the power lines. this must be the place.
i harvest crevices from the moss. gathering vapor over the pond, forming unstable horizons. cell phone towers bend and crumble. i hear the sleepwalkers drifting over the hills, carving kettle bogs in their wake. i tease apart the threads. on subsequent paths, a different endpoint emerges - a possibility for divergence. radio signals and chemical entanglement draw bodies together across distance, seeding delicate rituals and verse. a folklore of intertwined fibers.
i unbirth into the water, becoming nascent, becoming nymph. i pupate again and again.
something arrived in the bog when no one was there to see. it left a shape in the undergrowth. it pulled down rain from the clouds, descending on a wire. its trace quivers on the tree needles. the lake underneath the lake, dissolving stone and enamel, turning bark to turpentine, wanders from watershed to watershed. the jewelweed stands up on red rubber legs. it stumbles aimlessly over wet rocks, like a pilgrim drunk on exhaustion.
ii. drifter’s prayer
honey smelling candles at the shrine, and husks of overripe fruit. a goddess slumbers somewhere here, in the rusting tesseracts and the bramble vines. the bismuth-spiraled structure breathes a faint music. plastic bottles cower in the corner. the river runs through here, down to the marsh, where the last remnants of a bastion sink ecstatically into the mud. mallows deck the undergrowth like plumes of candy.
when i have no pockets for fragments or trinkets, i transcribe them on moth-wing paper. the sigils muddle together into a labyrinth. i lay walnut shells at the feet of a tall spirit, stele of the infinite filigree, goddess of secrets. i whisper something into the puddle at the side of the road.
iii. locus of imaginary colors
take me to the far reaches of the chroma, where impossible hues crowd like hungry ghosts at the gamut's edge. we teach each other ways of speaking. ways of synaptic travel, of cutting shapes into light. watch bedlam coalesce. spirals move under the water's surface, connecting points in time. i lose the spell in circuits and tangents. utterance in driftwood, and the hum of cicadas in the walnut tree. to be a threshold is our mantra. glints and tremors open onto half-remembered meadowsweet, on afternoon sunlight light cast against the brick. i wash echoes under the tap.
iv. spore catcher
mycorrhizae fill the quiet corners of the map - the mossy beech-stands and hemlock-needled hollows, the stagnant pools and water flowing under megaliths. forgotten pockets tessellate the space between footpaths. heres and theres echoed in the composition of shadows and eddies, other nows sprouting up like fruiting bodies. i carry a net with me - a catcher of thoughts, spores of memories and dreams.
v. strange assemblage
taproots become my veins. horizontal shimmer, wandering exhale on the threshold - the visionary crest of taller tales. a buckling frame makes lovely our little landscape, pulling seams into webs. i begin my new life as a constellation. i fragmentize with flourish, falling apart into half-remembered song lyrics, and toothy fragments of organic matter. i trade my arms for spiderweb. leave me on the diving rocks, spilling down like oil slick and algae bloom. let's sail on the heatwave. stylish and crumbling, expansive and incoherent.