Against the bloodbeat, against the necrotic
pang, against the eyeless house,
you steady yourself.
The silverware in the drawer
speaks your language—
the only language you hear today
inside the glistening mirage
your distractions have concocted:
A bridge is wet with river water, wet with tears.
The cherries bend low to listen.
Their branches strain against the small
wind of your thoughts, the jumbled
meaningless words, the old scents and computations.
Once again, nothing known as love understands you—
you, the soiled puppet queen, reeking of sorrow,
flapping your royal nail-bitten hands
on an island of rats, on an island
where only the kitchen knives speak.
[From Chestnut Ridge, a verse-history of southwestern Pennsylvania; first published in Cardinal Flower Journal (September 2015).]