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adam day / two poems


after and for Molly Brodak

To be alive means to be separated by a boundary – love can kind of thin out if stretched too far

between then and now like a portraiture of weather push-pinned to a map. The past cools

and hardens, and now that’s all there was. And an entire person is wasted on introspection –

in the background of insignificant action. You’ll never find the past. When you do find it, you’ll see

no one’s there. Not even the you you still hope to meet. Landforms are about erosion. The piers

of a port, the spikes of cranes slicing the sky, the labyrinth of docks, the dark silhouettes of cargo ships, the sea’s

snowstorm covering the blue mountains. And the icebergs floating through the night, like stranded clouds bruised

purple from the coming dawn. I still don’t know the world, only how it appears to me and looking has made me sick,

holding my lamp of knowing on the rim, and looking in. One shadow overtakes another. I already knew

the ending. I used all of myself, all of the self given to me, all of it. I’m here, I’m here is all it says. And it’s helpless, my body. My swifts are flightless.


Bricolage II

after and for Molly Brodak

People are wild and small and don’t live very long. The first to die are the ones who don’t tell stories:

mouse masks and leaky chamber pots and pine straw and red embroidery and the ugly song

a crow teaches her son so he can sleep. They tilt their dark half dome eyes up for hawks:

the sky is open all the way; workers upright on the line like spokes. Impossible dreams–

like building a birdhouse underwater. Dark pasts are only good at coming back. Each day ahead

is lake black. The holy lies between things. You hope you are remembering something

when you see it. Come back from there. If there is no one else here. I’m not either. Half of me feels strangled, a hard curve in a dirt road. I can’t see ahead. The last time I saw myself alive, I drew

the curtain back from the bed, stood by my sleeping body. You will save yourself. You cannot help it.


Adam Day is the author of Left-Handed Wolf (LSU Press) and Model of a City in Civil War (Sarabande Books), and the recipient of a Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship for Badger, Apocrypha, and of a PEN Award. Adam's work has appeared in the APR, Boston Review, The Progressive, Volt, Kenyon Review, Iowa Review, and elsewhere.

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