by Simon Perchik

Published in Issue No. 237 ~ February, 2017

You bang the rim the way skies

loosen and this jar at last

starts to open, becomes a second sky

though under the lid her shoulders

wait for air, for the knock

with no horizon curling up on itself

as sunlight, half far off, half

circling down from her arms

end over end, reaching around

making room by holding your hand

–it’s a harmless maneuver

counter clockwise so you never forget

exactly where the dirt was shattered

hid its fragrance and stars

one at a time taking forever.


You kneel the way this sky never learned

those chancy turns the dirt throws back

as breezes, still warm, scented

with what’s left from when the Earth

had two centers, one blue, the other

footsteps, half random, half gathered in

for stones no longer moving

–you begin each descent

unsure, around and around, entangled

as if roots would nudge the dead closer

again into your arm over arm waving goodbye

with one more than the other

–it’s how you dig, folded over

and your shadow deeper and deeper

already reeks from far off and wings.


You have to let them fall

though once the ground cools

–this toaster is used to it

sure each slice will climb

side by side and even alone

you wear a fleece-lined jacket

set the timer left to right

the way the first sunrise

turned from what was left

–it’s still warm inside

and each hillside –you expect them

to burn, to break apart midair

making the room the dead

no longer need

though there’s no forgetting

why this crust just through

two graves, yours

and alongside in the dirt

brought to the surface

as the cold bread

that no longer hopes for anything.


Although the stove never moves

you add on the way roots

have learned to sleep

where it’s warm –this kitchen

is still expanding, the pots

further apart with no end to it

can already set your hands

on fire –what you touch

are the stars pulling one wall

from the others, boiling

in a darkness that is not water

and slowly they reach the floor

the way light will lower its speed

pace itself so when it finally arrives

you hear nothing but its soft cry

no longer distances –what you extend

is the same heat your arms

are made from, wider and wider

held in place as if the sun

has forgotten how and withers

side by side, too cold, too small.


Holding on to the others this hillside

knows what it is to live alone

all these years falling off-center

though you no longer follow

still back away till your hands

and the dirt once it’s empty

both weigh the same –a small stone

can even things out

the way this casket on each end

leans toward shoreline, smells

from a sky unable to take root

or balance the Earth, half

with no one to talk to, half

just by moving closer – what you trim

floats off as that embrace all stone

is born with, covered

till nothing moves inside

except the lowering that drains forever.


Read more from Simon Perchik on his website @

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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 Reflection in a Glass Eye published by Cholla Needles Arts & Literary Library, 2020. For more information including free e-books and his essay “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at