KR OnlinePoetry

Our Names Unfurl Across Winter; For the Record

Our Names Unfurl Across Winter

1
Under the bare-branched tree,
my father lights a hand-rolled smoke,

jangles his cup of bones. Hush! I scold.
Tomorrow, frost will hinge the door.

At last, the fire will be lit. Ash and black
and warm. My firstborn wants to know

Persephone’s original name,
wants to know which flowers

grew in the field where she danced,
why her mother spends winter in tears.

Wind breaks against fence rails,
the gold wood gone to splintered gray.

 

2
Tomorrow, the geometry of the unseen
—an actual field—
will be up for discussion. Look closely
at the fabric
of our days, and you will see the careful seams
of my needle.
You will see my father (his long white hair,
his white beard)
pluck meteors from the desert’s skin.
Not metaphor,
meteor. It is necessary to use the right name.
Like a Shabbat
that begins and ends at nightfall,
the new year
opens its hungry mouth just as the windows
are drawn
against darkness. Take me, winter morning,
to feed
the ghosts their bits and crumbs.
Scatter
bread. Let them rattle as they feast.

 

3
His stories needle, an unrelenting
                        wind. Ice skins morning,
feathers windows.
                        When my hair is white, I will look
like him for the second time.

My daughter
            wakes in the dark, reads
                                    the seams in my palm
                        with small fingers.
Her face vs. the past:
            leap and meteoric rise.

                                    Small remembrance
drawn from the stream Lethe,
                                    its crystal teeth snapping
            at the ankles of those crossing.

Submerged,
            the hungry and their quarrels quiet.
Names unspool
                        from torn scrolls.

 

4
What I say to my firstborn
is this: Persephone’s mother
walked and wailed the fields
into fallow waiting, her tears
a scroll like grass is a scroll
of crickets and their cries,
like wind is a scroll of crossing
geese, high and honking on the day
the first frost came, years ago
when I was small and you were
yet before me
. A day of feathers
drifting into my palms. My father’s
hair black. My mother’s hair black.
The dark river biting at our backs.

For the Record

I have often said that “you” refers to him,
except for when it means me.

Though we see no color ripening among the leaves,
pale-yellow apricots appear on the ground

each morning. “You” insist that they are thrown
over the fence by the child next door,

but she has no fruit tree. And so we go
until we take up smashed fruit and taste.

We have three ways to see,
said Hugh of Saint Victor, and the hardest eye

to look with is called true sight. I wrestle
with the small mess “you” leave behind,

but do not know if it is his, or it is mine.

Kyce Bello
Kyce Bello’s poems have recently appeared in Anomaly, Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art, and Raven Chronicles. She has an MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts, and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.