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Six Curves
curve 1
underneath any involuntary twitch, underfoot when I trip, bruise a knee,
this time, an elbow, a shoulder,
bruise the thick, doorless amnesia surrounding this body
I can’t reach
this body, lost with all the pills I spilled from their jar, pills
can be picked up, a body can’t, won’t
even if I’m scratching hard at skin down past what’s beneath—just more
anybody can see
this body won’t show itself
just as night’s sky doesn’t show itself to morning
night’s hours an elastic my mind wants to believe
it can pull taut
in a language I don’t speak, though my back teeth
grind a little closer every night
to its echo
this morning was a crow, just the one
arcing in a long certainty, longer than any street I walk
to catch the bus to work, even if the sidewalk falls away
from what walking means, like a body does
before it’s seen
I’m not late yet


curve 2
I’m not late yet, if I hold my breath
at breathing’s edge thickwhite where I’ve folded
unfolded and folded myself
until the image tears
I was arching my back, then hunching forward to enclose all
the aloneness I could keep from my mother in bed so close, her own creases
had an odor I
could taste though she could not
distinguish her taste from mine, she tried, she had mouths
at the ends of both wrists, sore chapped
in daylight, at night eased
if I’d just let her reach a little farther into
this body I can’t find
is just a crow my eye was following until it slipped
through sky’s white crease


curve 3
until it slips through sky’s white crease
flight is instinct
in the eye of a crow arriving from nothing as two ruptures
I see
the shape of wings
learning to breathe 
means working all the muscles of rupture that will carry a body
into sight
garbage truck’s engine powering up, then silence, then
clutching down, repeat
the sounds
of the dead, rhythmically clapping
never entirely hidden, standing just outside
this circle
the silence of each pause, a self portrait
I am late to begin
arm of the garbage truck reaches out
the overfull bin left at a bad angle on the rise of the street
nothing tentative in a mechanical grip, regardless of what it does or
doesn’t hold
now that it’s begun to close


curve 4
now that it’s begun to close off the breath in my throat
my tongue the swollen flower I’ve tended, waited for, memory saturated
that could kick meaning out past each petal-edge, gone flushed red
where I’d always pretended atmosphere ended, breathing there
is suckling
action not air


curve 5
suckling action, not air
where there was never a mother
only skin
behind that, a little dirt
where the weeds in my backyard grow a tangle of nerves
each wiry vine extends toward its future but can’t break through
what is nothing other than its own surface
which prevents anything from reaching through to
anything else
she never touched me
no matter how close, how hard she might rub her nothing against mine
no one has any reach there


curve 6
no one has any reach here
if I let each of my cuticles curl up in a sneer, showing
how delicate, how breakable are bones
it’s a different theater than I’d expected
but on the same street I’d written down as the one
I’d been looking for
without asking myself, where are you going
I can ask myself just once, to ask repeatedly
is error
changing almost any question back into
the bed, where she isn’t watching for me, where all the watching
is my own

Omnidawn copublisher Rusty Morrison’s books include Beyond the Chainlink, Book of the Given, After Urgency, the true keeps biding its story, and Weathering.