So there will be no distraction
you shower at night, your hands
kept cold as the same sound

snow breaks off bit by bit
whose only defense is to melt
and rock is now so rare

—the pebbles you saved
you bathe, hold under, hide
for hours in falling water

though there’s no light left
or the cry from your arms
around and around in pieces

half rain, half the sky
crushed against this frost
no longer burning or a place.

Exhausted, turned back —your death
never quite buried here
and inches down still struggling

the way the mist clings to you
as water older than sunlight
though there’s no need for shade

and over your throat the row by row
not yet thirst and constant waterfall
—try! with a single mouthful

the same stone the Earth still grows
to feed you dead your only chance
left upright, for keeps and behind

smelling from fruit and branches
within reach —a sip, a rock
broken off one root with another.

Through every bone and gnaw
as if it still has feathers
is flying into their last song

the way all descent now
begins by rippling overhead
closer than the restless drone

that would become your heart
and sunlight, louder and louder
devouring the Earth whole

—you chew on engine sounds
already those same shadows
that end in the terrifying shape

used to this day for plates
rounded so nothing falls off
except wings and branches

and these tiny stones you eat
from the forehead spread across
to dry your hands and remember.

This cup feeds itself
clinging to your lips
as if each star once unearthed

already has an aroma
though it’s a small claim
and you have to fill it twice

with dirt, pour so the arch
circles back barefoot, smells
from stones no longer too heavy

let go or fingers, jaws, winds
that keep nothing for later
not this wooden table

not the wooden chair
not a word and overhead
another morning all its own.

Easy, this lake
sheds its bark
and each ripple

makes room :birdcalls
and the sky
almost raining

wider and wider
—a great tree
fallen on its roots

and each splash
leafs out dead
rids itself

and those same footsteps
passing you naked
taken away

as shadows and ice
weighted down
holding you back

—simple! you toss
and this tiny stone
is further and further

the deep breath
no longer choking
water and birdsong.

—Simon Perchik

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poetry has appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, The New Yorker and elsewhere.