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From The Fourth Moment
                            Late in the month you bore about
doing something else with money. A magnet’s song,
I’d go on a weeknight in a small city with friends,
uncertain of the clapboard light, or who would
come. If you don’t have anything to say maybe wait
and call tomorrow. The desert forming content.

Half a movie at a time we get older. At the races
my aunt Ollie awarded trophies / I have a picture to show
her in the 1950s glow of the Belmont Stakes. I’m pretty
sure a poet is an author too, so in saying both you prove
your lack of faith, which was tonight built on free food
and chatter. I drove home by the sounds resembling
fauna and flora, to turn a month over makes brocade
in the wild thoughts of the albatross / I considered
an honest fix for awkward real estate. I mourned life.

To man and manipulate order or to wonder
at compartments, I take the street out of the city
to lie down in the middle / I forget
the mild translation of “I miss my friends”
or what they’d say if I told them. In sleep
we heard of cherries at the bottom of a lake
we went bobbing to collect them (make jam?)
in the night. Having faked bravery
I’m petulant today. You borrowed my body
for a few seconds / I multitasked oblivion.


The ceiling curved more with the lights on
we cop another season from the foreign future
Kathy’s curtains ape geomagic candlesticks.

Moving into the street on field days
involves keys, stones, pockets
when they aren’t full of issues, to know you
I hardly kiss you in the [sic] spring, a sound
beneath phonetics in bed. An aggregate, love
sunders nights to study beauty, paper routes,
pickled home movies, French, the hideous
occult. So I kid the rain / sneak behind the
moon to be another day. The weather opens
and yields “some sun” on Tuesday and nothing
is what it was, has always been, the body a rapport
between heaven and dirt, the sand a bed of petite stars.

I fell around constitutions of two countries.
Sometimes it appeared as light from catastrophe,
a backyard folding up a wedding of international
candor that was seventeen years ago, I was that then.

                                                       I could not recall
if today or tomorrow was the hindrance inhabited
or if Monday was heaven with a cold singing
dioramas became procedure for how
we natter at night that the palms are a chorus
of second-story profits. Having sought an escape from
midday constructions I fought favor with blocks
of ice, April cutting through other iterations.
I’d prefer you say what fault carries.
My condition left the building for a seaside
town where we revered the end of knowing
(thick straws / little umbrellas).


Me? I ate the day waiting for you, dabbed cream
thinking of things mother says, knowing
the names for pincushion, tree, flower
moss, a mistake of identification along
Irving; I called out my friend’s name
across a traffic embarrassed. I lost what
wasn’t mine one summer, which played out worse
than when we might have wed. Loss pike willow
stone to rope the day in seeds. Marry an old hill
the wives say into the microphone as you turn
into the clearing, a clock, nights in chlorine, a Jew
when I was little swimming on a team that
stood for something, Mother drying my hair
against winter. To draft the woods a letter
and throw it under sentences blinking
to believe in the abstract night to call it back
under day I was listening to the sound of force
of the mechanical waves. Summer said nothing,
went to bed. Called but and intended for another,
I wrote a message to the men I know, giving
up what had become life, little marks on blue cards.
The apple has no core I had begun saying in October.
Nixing the shoreline’s sound we walked to the end of
the country two years ago in the simultaneous brine
of what memory does to a garden flower.


Night came but was for salt. Some green world taped to the aughts taping signs to objects.
I bought a blue lamp for three dollars on Church Street—later paid twenty for repairs because it
suits me to sleep and had                                                             come from a painter. Support the
air and the artist they say,            It’s late and no one can save              another way to wake from
recumbent narratives. As if          your sense of mislaid agency              the ninth became a setting on the
TV of the world we grew in                                                            disbelief that summer could be an
opera in letters. Consider sentences. To lose the wave in an unpleasant story by the sea, Bartleby
began the day with his machines. The reverse of lilac fields or middle. There were signs in the
roaming mind up and down the coast which caused precipitation in our lethargy to blossom in the
year of elections. It’s no fault of language when we fail to communicate. The chin of an old feeling
dragging on the floor in a secondhand store in Reno. Baby, I got you a piece of night sky, have you
any mercy on me? The lap laid invisibly what harp it had to give, suss the wind, pour a penny into
the bone and cap of yesterday, time portends weather, the end of the world waving at us from what
won’t be instead. This vehicle                                                         stops for sentences, a calla lily
brought back from forays. To        I cut my hand / on the wind               consider the sound or its
duration, which may be the                                                             same spark, you see the
conditioned bell along the axis of instance, say nothing to the door which has no part
in the ordinary, call home to advise the grass on being green.


That was summers ago. When we argue
it’s about the body leaving song in early
evening, you were out of town and
I’d bought freesia as a kind of company
and knew that fire was the secondary
syllable of skin and held on to resist
hours of making the oncoming
curtain. It would be days of this, the stars
there for show, the line along the fence
to a tent dismantled for men I felt OK
on the coast, shuddered by the undetermined
fact of kinship, love. For this I wore a hat
to keep my eyes from closing in the
sun he cast about clovers in a forest
by the king’s road.

The train sounds across the night and
another word for sea; I’d been
thinking a summer of fixed forms
countering waves and looking at the calendar
in its boxes waiting. It had been
what it was to be a sister to a man married
to a woman I didn’t know how to speak to.
So what is it anyone could say around
the amity that wasn’t what family was
intended to form? It was a middle of August
five years ago that Evan and I drove by the century
I can’t remember / what was said.
(The desert that does a person in.)

Watching the televised afternoon
light, in the mode of no order, a hole dug
for swimming, we gather numb hearts for dinner,
neglecting directions for feeding, siphon day
over the plating of season like when I was half
witch half kid in the kitchen. This occasion
for rough access in the winnowing dark
feigns a nap in the interest of a person’s life.

This isn’t just like everything else
but more maddening and autobiographical.


Digging earlier centuries to fix a length between ears. To know I’d been somewhere before, to let us go again. How you might ask what I say across a night and how disappointed by my answer. I am thinking of something my sister’s kid said. I am thinking of a number between Monday and June. I am thinking of my mother. I am thinking alone. I am thinking of a blouse I didn’t buy, of a thing I thought to wreck. I am thinking of Ben, no, the other. If I can mine your speech for sensation. If never is a verb in this instance. I am thinking of betrayal and the ways to spell fire. Of my sentences. Of crossing the street in pain. I am thinking of your face. Of what mothers would say. Of horsey and where he’s gone. Of what my hair will do today. I’m thinking around the winding sentence of death. Of Ollie watching television on Long Island. Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings—and why the sea is boiling. Of the offered smoke and its song. Of what a room can make in the backyard of a mind. I am thinking of the ways language suits marriage like bones.

Amanda Nadelberg is the author of three books, most recently Songs from a Mountain (Coffee House Press, 2016). She lives in Oakland.