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Dessa Bayrock


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The birds are fat and the ground is hollow
but filling, because everything is filling,
and the birds are fattening and God, can you feel it?
Is this spring? Everything is sinking into the earth
and pressing itself out again like pimples.
The squirrels are fatter than eggs, and the birds
are too fat to fly. What weird wind is fluffing their feathers
this time? The breeze is pooling under the ground,
opening like a mouth, and what’s the word
for something that is hollow, or was hollow, but fills,
and empties, all at the same time? In any case,
the birds are full up with it, or else with eggs,
or wind, or spring, and everything else, too, is filling,
filling, filling, and startling something into flight.

The Magician’s Trick

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Last night asleep in the boiled summer heat
I dreamt of a magician in a bare, red house:
empty, as most things are empty, which is to say,
casually, and concerningly, and mostly.
Under the magician's direction, I moved the last of her things
until there was nothing left in any room—only that colour:
a red like blood, like lacquer, pooling against the walls
and halls, and windows.

As I finished, an owl somehow beat its way into the house—
a jarring, marring white against all that scarlet. This, of course,
would never do, and the magician turned the bird scarlet, too,
by slitting its throat.
See how emptiness, too, she whispered,
can be a kind of magic?

First nightmare in the second apartment

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I dream you paint yourself blue,
tracing long, navy stripes
along your breastbone.

How did you ever get so dark with worry? And how
did we ever get so far apart?

But it seems inconsequential, in this dream—
suddenly you and I emerge onto a street, expelled
into something greater and dirtier than ourselves.
Together we search and discard the crates stacked in the alley,
looking for—well, god knows what,
because of course we never find it.

Then, just as suddenly, I'm awake:
the radiator kicking to life with the click and clatter
of a sewing machine, swift and sudden in the night.

What will it take to sew us back together? And what
might ever convince you to lift your dark and heavy head
from your sweet hands?

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