Like a fist, like a rose

"Rodinná podobizna" (1910)
by František Kupka (1871 - 1957)

What could happen if something like a knife
like hands along the furrows of the spine

unbutton from bones the drum of the trapezius
and free the muscled wings? Days when the back

knots, when a woman walks by, eyeing
the sidewalk, her arms filled with the borrowed white

of daisies, and I think she has dusted the things
of this life so long her cloth is ragged, unspeakable.

Is it wrong to think of a lit candle inside her,
the liturgy of incense, wine’s hearty erasure? Wind

strung like heaven above the street buzzes the avenues
of squirrels and crows, and the encroaching maples

of the afterlife shed like lounging dogs. Since
I have rejected their medium-length shadows, which

rosy virgin of hope saves me from myself? Pink
tears harden to plastic beads. A woman lies down

to let shadows drape her back, a scarf of heat
as green afternoons pause her face and her sister

and the dog. Cars drouse, dreaming of offices,
and verbs change gears. Where I feel is strange

tickling, aches, the stump of wings, some wild
indifference singing grief is grief and gone.

32 Poems, 2003