Elegy in reverse

Like water, remember the night you howled
at the moon and swallowed the streetlights

outside. Electric glow soft & white in your mouth.
Tongue burned because, as always, you held the fire

too long. Light-years away & you wake up clutching
someone’s dead bones, which escaped from the dream

as you were falling into it. Now: your head is a shovel.
You’re standing in the backyard, digging a hole

for the past & the future. In each mouthful of dirt
you unearth all manner of small & necessary things:

roots, the impression of flight, skeletons old & new,
dozens upon dozens of unknown creatures

who, never receiving thanks, toil day & day
to give us back the earth. In the trees

apples swell & rot inside their summer skins.
How many more times can you write about

the pond in winter, light falling
in & out of your bedroom window, the locusts

meditating on your back porch at dusk, pages
filled with the same big & little words

all spelling out desire? How many more times
can you fall asleep drowning? How many more times

can you greet the same ghosts? Even knowing, as you do,
that come each morning, they will disappear

into a new snowfall of sun. Still, the heart
holds on to the possibility of possibility. Beholden

to this haunting, you glance outside at every passing cloud,
waiting to see the bodies fall to the earth

like lightning. Instead, only shadow. Instead,
you wake & wake & wake, lost in a maze of faces

you once recognized—theirs, & your own.
Memory shakes loose from your throat

& drifts noiselessly into air, to return someday
as familiar weather. In its wake, only the shape of heat

to show that something once lived there. What name
will you give to this bodiless hunger? What name

will you give to me when we’re dead?