Tuesday, June 4, 2013

4 June 2013

Sandra Meek [Paul O'Mara]

The History of Air, Part I

Once there was a once, a story
she added each night to
until the calendar slipped
from the wall, her blood running

away from my hand’s small pressure
stroking her hand, spilling back
like grape juice down a straw
a child plays, not
drinking —

            Her room’s fluorescence
bays the dark beyond
the doorknob she could turn,
once, when constellations glittered
until she clicked them
off behind blinds underscoring
the night she no longer

distinguishes from morning.
She could field
any midnight’s lightning,
then, before the question
she’d swept to the back of her brain
wine-stained her skull
with the jewel of a continent

she’d never travel, all
but the purple cap of veins pulling
away from, I swear, the

shrinking bone. I stroke
her hollowing brow; cradle
the ivory knob topping
her spine’s pebbled
bow of smoke, memorizing
the fragrance of her strawberry-yogurt moan

as they turn her, the poise
of the oxygen canister in the corner, its bomb-
like mechanism sealed
off as the room’s perpetual machine
purrs on —

             Perfect pitch
lies in the bone, the flute
and whorl of it: the body a tuning fork
struck into sound even as language
abandons her — We swam over lakes, over big thick strings
of water — for a stammer

in her wrist; the small hiss
of a dowsing-rod nosepiece
gifting her what she
can no longer take
in, the upstaging
air, a magician’s last poof
as dry ice pours crematorium smoke
into velvet stage curtains, like clapping
two erasers, all chalk

and muffling, as into the pillow
beneath her I could almost,
almost —


Each day an emerging
                                     Ring of rib, definition

Another pearl scimitar
Sheathed in fawn. The paradise of west is the sun

Always falling. Nothing’s as permanent as passing

Transience, the wing
                                    Whirred to light, the moon’s moth-dust
Ghosting noon. Each blink a little

Warding off blindness, the gate
                         Of skin and lash swings

On its hinges.
How four billion wings must have

Charged the air. Body, ark
                                      Of extinguished generations, lost

Species, will a little more hunger let her see you
As a rack of rainbows?
                          Her last rib spoons each day’s

Fainter breath. Migrating air.

Sweet meat of the world
                                        Picked clean.

The History of Air, Part II

The mimosa folds each tiny rack
of green ribs as the sun

downs and the parking lot grows
more to distance, her night terrors

again coming on as her name
fades from the vomit tub where I inked it as she

did mine on the plastic soap dish I carried
three summers up the mountain to camp, to bonfires and sticky

blackened marshmallows that tasted of
dirt-clotted air —

With all my own
death-fears, what did I

ever know? Not how she’d clutch
the call-light, the narrow snake

and wand of it, its one powder-white eye
to press, wrist watch drifting to her elbow’s jut

and sail; not how words would keep waying
up the north road she,

remembering, puts her should to, her
hurry to; Wipe the spoon, she says, we will need

a knife and a fork and a coat where we are going
Not how I couldn’t

let her hand go even as her veins
collapse and she strains

into atmosphere, into the too-thin air
always encircling us.

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