My courage lies dead on the branch
of a cactus in the desert;
a creature I watch
die over and over,
again and again—crawling across
the needle and shriveling
in full sun.
I can’t help this
struck hard by indiscriminate
passions, falling like
heavy solar flares, yet I don’t burn
hot enough to force a tick from my skin,
rather wear the disease like
a new hair color.
They say Lyme disease is bad
this summer. You say my hair
looks like flames, fading
from red to what I was born with—
a color neither dark nor light,
something like the needles of a cactus:
straight, cut short, you call this
perspective, the looking glass—
not a single hole in the wall
through which to see—the black and the
white. Is it night or day? Spring or fall
in the desert, inside a jar painted black?
I wake in the evenings, sleep at the break of dawn.
It is lost on me:
the difference between
a jar and a door when they are
both closed. There is a funeral
procession in desert sand, the creature
put to rest in a jar. I’m looking for a hole
in all this hesitation: To climb or not to climb?
To swim or not to swim?
The tree is tall
and dead if you look closely,
you see the trenches of the ash borer,
under bark, the tick walks away engorged
with blood: the differences between
swimming and drowning, ash and iron
a mountain in a lake, a mountain
made of lace—the mountains I climb
are knots in sewing thread:
the thread made of fallen trees.
I’m shakable, unshakeable and as
I drown in the mountain, a door bursts open:
It is the jar. I cry with the skeleton
inside it, still ignorant.
Lines cross in infinite directions:
where to begin? Where to end?
Thread cascades down a mountain
I am entangled. I start skeletal
in a desert trench;
I end the same.