The bridge marshals together a flotilla of ducks whose beaded
heads beg you to count them. The stippled field burned
across one corner reminds you of your sins. Or me of mine.
Listen, I have used second person to camouflage my fear
of scrubbed light, of sky reaching down to finger me
like a riled border agent checking tourists for forged papers.
Just now, I’m doing backstroke, but if I let myself rise
from the grave of first person, I might also be a snapping turtle
below deciding which toe of this sorry swimmer to bite.
Or a sentence in a Victorian novel fallen against the belly
of a pregnant somebody dozing on shore, turning now
to devour a delicious direct object. Why is it, whatever I look
at turns hungry? When Christ multiplied the loaves,
he committed as many catastrophes of meaning as there were
open mouths. What the multitude gave back filled
twelve baskets. What they refused filled seven horizons.
I’m no different, gliding through what is vertiginous and wet
and holy and calling it water. Occupying a floating city
wrapped in skin but calling it body. Say me in dashes, lift
me till I rise upwards out of self the way rain drizzles down.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.