Small House Near Somewhere, Emily Hill
Is this what the world looks like to you after half a bottle, Ed?
Mountains raging down like drunken fathers? You’re intimately familiar with the slam
of stone against stone. Speak with me, wild boy: after all, you saw your own father ramrod in a chair, alone with his ravenous God.
I am far from home and home is drowning. It’s two after five, Ed. The gallery is closed &
my breath is warm against your paper face. I can’t decide if you’re lost or if you take pleasure in tearing up maps.
God folded my land across a seam and rent it apart
because rain is a predator. Torrents and roars of earth. Mass wasting: a great salted wound. Dysentery, fat from the trails of oregon and tears, pricks up her ears.
My people learned their savagery from
the immense souls of herons.
The crabapple trees of America,
tightlipped in wonder, and readiness.
And you, dear and sullen child, all cragged over with drink: your father washed and washed and washed his hands, and
you lost all your women early,
in a tectonic world etched into
ever smaller boxes. Dutch cities
crammed with gardens framing
one tulip like a jewel.
You had to touch your mother’s dead hand, see your sister’s face as a black curtain drew near. I want to wake you from this nightmare of stones smashing in fierce
but I can’t wake myself. Hands open in rictus. Listen, Ed (born in horror of lines inked by time) I’m not asking you for comfort.
I’m asking you to draw.
I need to see again sunny light limned by shadows of ink. Show me the voltage of the skyline, silver fish pressing mouths to silver water. My home is the great green heart
Of some watchful titan. Rage
shimmers always at the edges. Soggy logs break underfoot, dropping young girls into freezing pools. A black dog caught in white rapids, tossed against stones.
Even the dog knows not to cry out. The world can be warm and sweet as a mouthful of plum
but not here.
We live knowing God
can erupt from forested ground, burn
His short madness,
and be gone.
Look. Rescuers in their silence fan out
across sinkhole and great waste
looking for survivors. Only the whites of their palms are visible, like petals in a flooded gutter:
a boy buried up to his knees, eyes wide and gone with horror, pleading for his mother and for Sophie, Sophie, Sophie—
Even reflected, inked, slammed, distorted:
suffering survives. Anyone who spends more than a moment with you knows you clutch it,
We reach through wreckage shoulder to shoulder with death, a jackal
girl alight with merry sympathy.Our hands clever as rain.
We all lose those things sweeter than us, Ed. We, all of us, stare up at a wide angle lens. You always draw a veil
and a sufferer, Munch.
As a boy, you knew the dead have as much claim to us as kin.
No one knows gold until it snaps
in the sky like a war pennant over broken pines. The mountain is a holy cup now. A scrawl of oily ink on stone.
Rage down on the world, Ed. No matter how you slash it, you spill great seething blocks of