Cynthia Atkins
Cynthia Atkins

Without A Visible Sign
(after music by Jan Garbarek)

Seed me the need to pair down, threaten
              six birds with one
stone. Indecipherable lists, breeding
              more lists---Remember when
the chalkboard scratched its weary head
in delirium, desperate for the proof,
              an empirical evidence,
that we were here! Translucent shoal
of fish swimming a blue streak
              in the river that holds
my religion—and my house beside it,
like our domestic institution
              of the soul.
The river is my lung, or the long green
dress I never got to wear to the prom.
              The crisp gown, stilled tagged
and left on the bed by my mother’s guilt
like hush money clad in chiffon.
              Is there ever simplicity,
the wrinkled symphony—the river’s violin,
the bullfrog floating with eyes closed
              like padlocks and waiting
to awaken to the night’s uncertainty.
The riderless canoe spreads the word
              of mankind. My foot soldier
prom-date, weary and hocking for war or fertility—
it’s always one or the other. Don’t ask, don’t tell.
              Water and oil will be the elements
that make us kill. I’ll spend the rest of my days
telling my story, someone else will tell theirs.
              The prints will be left—
You have to forget everything
you know to write poetry.