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By Simon Perchik


The Montréal Review, September 2011




                                What more proof do you need! jagged
                                left behind --a beautiful stone
                                torn to pieces and near its heart

                                a tiny rock half drift, half moonlight
                                that blossomed to become the opposite shore
                                --all these years in the open

                                though every wave still smells from stone
                                the way this sea from its start
                                was never sure, even now a doubt

                                splashing as your blood or throat
                                or better yet next time at breakfast
                                reach out with just your breath

                                and god-like touch the boiling tea
                                hold up the evidence, the first wave
                                and the emptiness it counted on.

                                Runners train by it, both my fists
                                and at the finish line
                                snap open the way each new moon

                                still unbeaten uses this flourish
                                to poke inside these stones
                                --you can't hide much longer

                                and years mean nothing now
                                dropping back from exhaustion
                                dragging the dirt behind

                                --wherever you are I can find you
                                handful by handful broken apart
                                for just two fingers calling out

                                and in front the unyielding ribbon
                                suddenly dark I can snatch
                                the breath letting me through.

                                Battered though its wings
                                disappear under your eyelids
                                and more smoke --this lever

                                lost its touch, wants out :rusts
                                the way this wall is kept in place
                                pulled down on all sides

                                by old wiring and wrong turns
                                --always one slice that can't be saved
                                though you wear gloves

                                yank the smoldering cord
                                so that still warm jacket
                                is torn open, lets the sun fall

                                as rain and later --this toaster
                                reeks from your head thrown back
                                to see if both eyes move

                                and the other slice the North Sea
                                pressing against your hand
                                for a little more time.

                                Though the sky comes to rest alongside
                                you can't tell just by a street sign
                                who the sidewalk is for--it does no good

                                looking around as if anyone wanted it
                                always raining --what you see now
                                is its descent held in your arms

                                as more rain and coming back with nothing
                                --she's not here, not there
                                --this walking you do, the way a grindstone

                                keeps wet and slippery
                                whose turns are no longer possible
                                --at least walk with an umbrella

                                that is not a flower --there's not enough
                                not in all the world enough flowers
                                that can walk by holding on to your hand

                                and the grave that you call to
                                is it what this rain does, too weak to stand

                                falling off as still more rain

                                --at least wear shoes! hide something
                                so when you let go a still dry stone
                                it will surprise her and more emptiness.

                                Under this fountain, half graveyard
                                half shoreline where her name
                                washes up the way each mourner

                                comes by sea, drops anchor
                                and the small stone holding fast
                                as if spray makes the difference

                                --you come here to crouch
                                though there is nothing to begin
                                except waves :night after night

                                eaten away by footfalls --what's left
                                is the climbing splash
                                millwheels will wring from riverbeds

                                --with just one stone you let go
                                and the sky sinks to the bottom
                                that already left for here.


Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. For more information, including his essay "Magic, Illusion and Other Realities" and a complete bibliography, please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com.


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