The wall is a declension of window.
So many before us made the journey to place
Stone eyes under the tiny arches.
We knew the eye was a symbol—
Not of knowledge but a flower—
Just as a bird on the branch is not an image
Of having but wanting.
The body of the city is stitched,
With boxes for eggs. Smokestacks like tree roots
Grown into albumen. A hard place
To get to, snowbound; bridges wracked with faults
Or rusted with age, leading nowhere.
Only the most resolved try.
Hermetic neighborhoods. Streets that heave
With disrepair. Boarded windows,
People stumbling about like cardboard stock.
It is rumored that somewhere a single bird
sits on a branch.
Anyone who can coax it to sing will enter
A state of perpetual forgetfulness.
2.) He who has not yet been
The flowers and weeds and long grasses,
Made of yarn, were not quite
As he remembered. Long untended,
Dirty; sad in the way of neglected carpets.
There were guns along the walkways
And ladders made of wood or steel.
People took their chances defending them.
The city, too, had changed.
So many unused buildings and signs
That no longer meant anything.
These were the houses of the dead.
Those who had not yet died were living
In the malls now that the hills
Had been turned into silos.
He wanted to wash their faces in a basin
Of warm water, one after the other,
But it was clear this gesture of grace
Would not be welcome.
He watched a child crayon a tree on the wall.
He thanked her for the memory and left
For wherever it was he was supposed to be
(First published in the Water~Stone Review.)
Steve Mueske is an electronic musician and poet whose most recent book is Slower Than Stars. His poems have been published in The Massachusetts Review, Crazyhorse, Crab Orchard Review, Third Coast, Court Green, Hotel Amerika, CURA, Linebreak, Water~Stone Review, and anthologies such as Best New Poets. He currently writes reviews of experimental electronica and publishes poems on The Oneiric Moor. His music can be found on Bandcamp and Soundcloud.
Photo ©Richard Beban