Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
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I’m Working on this Synecdoche

1 beachscape
On a winter afternoon it is bare enough to see all the way
to the ocean but no further than this—the gray
of gull shoulders, the horizon.

I mean that the day closes faster than any bird could fly.

Somewhere in your roll-top is a beach the easier to hold,
snowed over and matted, the shoreline
a continuation of the waves and only a row

of fence posts scant in the drifts unable
to stretch beyond.

Once you said two human beings would always exist
depending on distance.
You pointed out sandbars that weren’t there an hour ago.

You picked up shells that refused to hold water.

Already the fumbling undertow at our feet
and the bodies that keep us apart.


2 the view from your apartment window
I’ll come to this easily. I’ll see a cat running across a field,
a bird in its mouth or notice how the sky seems to turn

me within it, and that street scene of yours

is deliberate the way it develops—a pigeon forever glancing off
the taxi’s windshield, so miraculous
you can hear the cherry bird heart taking flight,

school children about to look, the clouds still in the air.

Yesterday I found an old set of keys under
the kitchen sink and thought of all the possible locks.

I walked the four miles to your corner and saw
the storefronts different but their numbers the same.
I could barely hear the traffic passing.

There were two of me

beneath the apartment window, one silent in monochrome.


3 portrait of man and child (found)
At the antique fair for five cents you bought
a photograph of a man holding a leash and on the other end
a child. The man looks outside the frame—

his body already heading in one direction.

These older models with their crude lenses make the earth
around the edges spin, the prints blurred by touch.

So it is uncertain where the man is going.
Some nights, you said, he walks right off the photograph
and explores

the drawers of your desk. On others he is bound
to the leash and his boy.

We made them into allegories—

the man a smooth wheel of limestone and his son a rock
tucked in the highlands, fixed by the light

in the sky. And a length between them.


4 portrait of woman and car (found)
I told you I thought it was ironic that people should pose
next to a means of transportation.


5 criminal circa 1930’s (found)
A tin type. A mug shot. How the man’s flat feature kept his eyes
apart, a broken nose folded on his face, roosting there,

the constellations of acne.

But more how the image is alive in the separation of glass
and metal plate. He sits, smirking, handcuffed

somewhere off camera.

Can you tell what a person is capable of just by seeing
what the mouth refuses to admit?

Can you say how the man felt about regret?

There are people who believe every picture is a hallway
lined with doors
or an intersection in the desert where the sky undresses

in all directions.
Then how many faces are in this one photograph—?

Then by what grace should our lives be reduced
to a distinguished shade of grays

one after the other?


6 picture of painting (color slide)
I confess that my work is memory, that I am tracing over
a projection on the wall.

Today I cleaned out the fridge and sketched a still life
of the rotting fruit.

Really, you should have seen how I shaded the avocadoes,
how I caught the exact moment before the tomato
began to eat itself. The celery

was lovely in purple.

Light bulbs are burning out quicker than I can replace them.
The way they cluck when I enter a room

is making me suspicious.
Over and over I wipe the same dust off the box fans.

The days keep coming faster than ever.    

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