Heat smarts. I dreamt a desert
gave its woozy heart out, pit
to earthen pit. What fallow field.
Ruddy souls burnish as roses
in outstretched land. Cotton
swabs, plasters, and salves.
The town betrayed me, wretch
I am. This the land they lent me.
Or that fed me. Loan me a motto.
What is left is what I am
handed — nickel, and wool. A life
out there scraping north.
Thick air soaks in where words
were buried; the words are culled,
and some are ripe, some ruined,
some like dynamite, some like leaves.
Today the trees break through the sky.
Yourself a dream self, contours
blurred, ill-defined, your voice
no voice at all, the trees gauzy
streaks along the water; there
were battleships rusting in the harbor.
You held me, in the shallows —
held me under. I rose to breathe
and light spilled over you
from a distant knot of gray
we thought was a sun, a symbol
of what light can do to us,
out here — I saw I was breathing
your air. I've heard
that water implies — what
else — indecision; or if not, endless
choosing, an art
of choice; then why
the iron wrecks? Which harbor? Where?
Marc Jaffee lives in New York City; he received his MFA from Washington University in St Louis. His work has appeared in The Best American Poetry 2004, Hanging Loose, Storyscape, and The Saint Ann's Review. Currently, he is reading Zbigniew Herbert, James Merrill, and Proust.