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Hour after hour this thin rock
clings the way all mussels
expect stone to be coated

nourish with darkness and salt
though there’s no shoreline
swollen with businesslike glue

sweetened for you dead and dirt
that can no longer free itself
still counts on flowers, on the visit

and on the stay, on these ancient walls
being built alongside each other
-a roof was never in the works

just ruins, rocks and mourners
sticky from rocks left out
wilting in the shallows and their arms.
*
Every sound has become a word, by now
sentences, ones that go step by step
and behind each other you hear

what falling water has to say, lets
its crushing wall do the talking
as if every voice begins among rocks

then end over end is carried down
for frozen seas and longing, tells you
it’s OK, dirt will help you forget

calmed by what the dead squeeze out
and the gesture :this stream pushing back
unfolds over your mouth, makes an answer.

*
Your favorite rag and over a simple fever
vines spread their leaves, are smoothed
the way dirt is no longer able to defend
itself

face to face against shovels and disease
-you heal her grave and again and again
wipe it always with a torn face cloth

kept cold, used to river ice wilting an
infection
one atom wide and one atom deep, invisible
without the swelling -you keep the headstone
clean

bathe one cheek then the other, your fingers
shining, scented with hard candy and
blossoms
once sunlight reaching for more water.

*
Two moons! between your arms
and rocking the Earth, pulling it
apart though you collect stones

already in weeds, strangled
the way rain is hidden, smells
from engine oil and mornings

as if they could be loosened
gathered to fill every hole
with the need for just two stones

ones that never touch each other
are no longer covered with sweat
or the trembling to become airborne

as the sound from a single throat
broken in half for its echo
and the sun falling away by itself.

*
Closing down, both eyes make room
for your jaw -an ancient trade-off
though the teeth still have watermarks

and your mouth a cemetery left over
the way mourners still look for shoreline
face into the wind till all running water

smells from salt and the loosening
graves swallow for safekeeping
-in such a darkness this single faucet

stays cold, turning in front the mirror
as if some blackened weathervane
half iron, half numb, clings to your hand

returning with place to place, yours
not yours, vaguely two and above the sink
the climb feeling its way in, weed by weed.

SIMON PERCHIK

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