I sit good, working the pink
calamine into my wrists.
A secret: I’m not even sunburned,
I just wanted the instinct of it
in the honeyed light of seven
in the evening.
I sit good. I’m out to find
the village in the marshlights;
let me take you back to a balmy,
summer’s gazebo, let me erase
that barbed knowledge, that today
that is all of the days—our exhausted
encounter, condition, cry.
The deeply-cut leaves in this new
spring I don’t know the shape of
but do, actually; that afterimage
of swooped lilies, the rot of them
saved at a man’s funeral.
And on the first warm day
the steep streets smelled of onions.
I sit good in the gasping lights
I fold him into the impossible,
into ‘the iniquity of oblivion
blindly scattereth her poppy.’
Her, I got her
on me skintight.
On Wednesday in the summer
of ‘seventeen of the current millennium
some kids are growing
with the century, even now as I sit
in the park and read centuries-old
rhymes, sometimes, just
that thought contains too much,
another disappearing act.
Already, I am sad I cannot protect
them, the girls with their still-
sitting in the corner-shaped park
spelling out their names with blades
of grass on their legs. I scan
the park for danger, already the moon
in the early evening is out, I look
for it, the star of the slowest
revolution. The girls
swan about the park now,
chasing, laughing, falling;
beautiful, busy rebels.
I want them to slow down
but they come into the world
slow, and then, too soon
into careening orbits.
More than bright stars
they are new constellations
with stories they own.
Still, I do what I can for us.
I agree, it seems odd,
how the worst men of the last century
do not age
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nikki-Lee Birdsey was born in West Auckland. She has an MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and a BA from New York University. She is a current PhD student at the International Institute of Modern Letters.