Will Barnes

Issue #
February 18, 2013


The slightest gesture —

as of smoke lifting from the ends of his fingers

as if to mark the place, a fluttering at the wrist

not particular in its choosing, nor memory —

of the new-built home, its shuttered eyes, the white spackling

of the names, glass-cornered, silled, deeply halled

of the yellow clay and ochre ground

of the rutted lane, our shoes, sunlit and blue

of the grasses splayed at its banks

of the evening wire, strung post-to-post, the silent fields

of the walk and return

the frame and its hands

the language mown to its parts —

mein lieblich

as if in elegy —

as if to brush aside, to slip the ashes —

as if to bind —

the casements linked each to each

in easement of the hollow and the dusk

of the man in the hall of the house of the verge

and the sparks lifted off the rail

of the trains’ voracious night

of the lights in each window, the valley in flames

of steel, come into steel — to occupy

to take or fill up

to engage or employ

to possess — to hold — to dwell

in severance — of the flesh — accidental

as our faces against the cold plate-glass

of the making, of the made

of the blue, die-cast knight asleep in the folds of his carpet.

My Bonnie lies over the ocean.

My Bonnie lies over the sea.

Black-work saddle. Silver boots.

The stubble of his cheek.

Calloused finger at my lips —

In the wake of its mind —

In the wake of a telling I cannot know —

There is a clicking —

of the wagon drawn across the white knitted stones

of the poplar-lined road to the Coleman-Kauserne

of the swingset, its sweeping gaze, the petals

of the voices sifting inside and beneath

of the sums, of the sums

in a language of stones

and the white painted stars

of the tanks on parade in the soles of our feet

to the mortar of walls, to the wells of our ears

from the barracks, from the barracks, from the barracks

into the narrow, cobbled streets

into the hedgerows, the corners

of thickets of willow

from the wet and sticky sheets

from the rent in its mind

into a breathless haze — an electric

uncoupling —

of the end of the lane

of the forest of pine

of the hands at my throat — smooth-palmed — concrete

entry — the doorless ringing — eve of the entry

(blonde and knobbly culms at its nape)

into the wood, into the dark mouth of the hill

into the weight and story

(an arterial dark)

(satin, esophageal)

My Bonnie lies over the ocean.

And when you return, you say: He painted

in the sea, dipping his brush to the tides

in the pools, at the rocks, by his feet.

And when you return, you say: Painted on the ceilings

of my sister’s birth — red and black — the living

relic — the mark — like an eye — open — still —

And when you return, you say: They had written their names

on the walls — on the insides — as if to see beyond

its gaze — as if to bear

upon its gaze.

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