Simon Perchik, Burying Winter

I

Shovel by shovel as if between
this dirt still gets its start
as one stone scouring another

and the fragrance spread out
squandered on a single bloom
already infected with your forehead

though her coffin never stops
is bathed by the others
trying to breathe as openwork

– with all these arms you dig
are turning the sun from under
its shadow, its roots and further.

II

A practice ground: gravestones
taking off, touching down
gathering these dead

as the dirt for loving you
– this is no bird who sings
– this is a bird who circles

by the book, eats rocks
– what’s left is a sky
that has stone to it

is bending the Earth
to steady your arms
covered with grass.

III

And though this door is here to love you
something more than death gives it shape
is reaching for the board you sleep on

stretched out alongside the empty dress
all night climbing on top your shoulders
the way small waves come in

and keep going, making room
for your mouth, for the nakedness
you know is yours with nothing to put on.

IV

Every love note starts out warm
sent by one hand over another
is pressing down on this snow

making a fire on her grave, covers it
with those songs from the 40s
still trailing smoke, longing for rain

that’s not one night alongside another
each falling off as the name
at the end, a pet name, a secret

you would write on a wall
to whiten it, begin again
already winter and bleeding to death.

V

You always wanted to be near ashes
close to shore, kept warm
between two fires and the afternoons

easing around the rocks
you dead go here with
adrift just below the surface

that has no owner
though nothing falls to the bottom
the way even now the rain

smells from smoke and your coffin
looks for another body
– you wanted to be water, run clear

take your bones with you
and after a long loosening
empty them as a go-between

this hole to lean down
and filling it from shells
not yet your mouth and shoulders.

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, Forge, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. His most recent collection is The Gibson Poems published by Cholla Needles Arts & Literary Library, 2019. For more information including free e-books and his essay ‘Magic, Illusion and Other Realities,’ please visit his website.

Read more of Simon here.

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