Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Tuesday poem #569 : Robert van Vliet : Leaving the Story Unfinished




You said it was a cloud.
I said it was birds.

You said I was afraid.
I said I was cold.

You said the spirit had entered you.
I said it was dust.

You said it was a temple.
I said that’s just another name for war.


You said: Adrift
on the dry lake,
the fish looked up at us
like lost stars
trying to bite the wind.

I asked: Is it more
than letting
your skin unfurl
like a thirsty leaf?

You said: It is more
than simply setting it down
and walking away.


I said: The silent bishops
toss their feathers
over the rim of the white well.

You said: They will not
teach you the name
of every magnificent
rite. They will only whisper
the same secrets
over and over.


I said: Do you remember? Cut
roughly from the bolt,
its bias confessing almost
everything, but leaving
the story unfinished.

You said: I remember those
faint patterns in the weave, beneath
our fingertips. We will never
know whether they were
blood or wine.


I asked: Can you hear them
walking away, stepping
lightly over the war
as it grinds the moon
down to sand?

You asked: Do you really think
they will just leave us alone
and forget all about us, like
apples once the seeds
have been stolen?


I said: They always wore the sun
at their hips like a warning, smoke
on their tongues. They gave nothing away.

You said: What seemed to us
like shadow or spice
was the false rain
of rumor and sorrow.

I said: This lethal breath
is more tireless, more
true than the sunset.

We fled before it,




Robert van Vliet’s poetry has appeared in The Sixth Chamber Review, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Wine Cellar Press, Otoliths, Guesthouse, and elsewhere. He is the author of the chapbook This Folded Path (above/ground press 2023). His debut book of poetry, Vessels, is forthcoming from Unsolicited Press in 2024. He lives in St Paul, Minnesota, with his wife, Ana.

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan

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