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Martin Rock



The grass on the lawn is alive

and last night my grandmother

opened her mouth and vanished

beyond the portico none of these trees

are native my brother said beside

the elevator he asked me to stop

the car I waited while he pulled

a green fig from its branch he sees

living things everywhere to eat

from the woods outside our childhood

home he appeared with morels

we sliced them they looked like veins

of leaves without flesh but also

like grey flesh when he cuts the fig

its meat is blush and squishy

how does he find such nourishment

even in cities the man who lives

in the forest makes a forest of his own

thoughts she must have known

this about him it’s been years

since I’ve killed a fish and eaten it

and did not understand death then

and do not now in the car on the way

to the airport my brother is calm

all of us he says everything dies he sees

a tree on the side of the highway

asks me to stop and this time I pretend

not to hear him he flies back home

to his girlfriend on the mountain

in Colorado and I return to Brooklyn

where I will walk to the library

in the new fall air, find American

Sonnets by Gerald Stern on the shelves

and sit down to write this poem.




            *            *            *


I step into the fog to buy bread.

The sky opens in my mouth

a stone is placed on your windowsill.

There is a city beneath the skin

we share a handful of cashews

in the cloud we cannot recognize

each other’s mouths. On the corner

a shop specializes in gravestones

and in the corner of the shop

a rack of loaves. Everything must go.

There is a final bow and in the city

a woman with very fine hair

clips a ribbon on the bridge

there are lights indistinguishable

from the glow they press

into fog. On the ground in front

of the store a man has drunk

himself blotto he is blurry in the face.

We give the man our bread.

Your face furrows like the face

of a bat the wings are most important

so we give the man our wings.

We return to our homes in the fog

there is an object heavy as a stone.

We cut it with our knives it cuts

easier than baguettes fall apart

and still we cannot lift it with our hands.

We carry trifles with our faces

try to show each other we are not

afraid but the fog contorts our mouths

and the fog comes drooling out.


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