Monday, May 29, 2017

The Poetry of Simon Perchik

The poetry of Simon Perchik has appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, The New Yorker and elsewhere.

It’s not a map yet there’s hope
–you unfold old times
as if one morning in February

you’d spread your arms
and land became land again
stayed behind as the snow

still tying down the Earth
–a small envelope, kept empty
the way you’d reach for her hand

and inside the air was warm
though there’s no rain, no grass
not yet a place for a name.

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.

You grieve along this wall
once coastline, trapped
in a millions-years-old undertow

now stone and longing –each night
you draw a moon as it’s rising
and within minutes a second moon

overflows from a makeshift heart
holding on to the building’s side
with her initials face down

as beautiful as chalk and the sea
though your eyes are closed
whitened, rounder than ever

are turning into mouths
that open to say I love you
then touch, again and again

as if this wall could be silent
no longer separate you from the dead
from the salt, from the water and rocks.

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.

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