The Space Between, collaboration, Denise Bergman and artist Phyllis Ewen.
IS IS WAS
One language disappears from the world every two weeks
Clawed consonants in rubble.
The h or s before and, the weighted n, the d
lost in the tumble too
and of course the vowels.
What if instead the stranded alphabet was pulled back in—
the circle is elastic,
sometimes we find our way home.
Twice a month a language is sentenced, a string of words
hangs, drops, disappears.
Metaphor collapses or shatters.
snaps. Shreds of subtlety—
no longer lived, the lived no longer spoken.
Chips and burrs of intonation,
slivers of inflection, shiftless dunes.
If a woman comes looking for her history tell her it is lost.
Tell her the phonemes are sand.
Published in Denver Quarterly
HAPPENING UPON THE EXPLODING SAND SCULPTURE COMPETITION ON TV
Found: the proper distance
Handprints the wind wiped away
Small cone piles where a bird claw raked the tension loose
From a swath of sand, preimagined
History's sputter, or granules of myth, rough in places
Color of tawn and if it rains, leather
Color of itself core to surface
Color of reuse
A seablue horizon floats its way up
Cyclops, Einstein, Planet of the Apes, Indiana Jones
The lone woman Betsy Ross sews Gallileo's stars
Map of narrative
Chunks, clumps, wads, pieces, specks
Eons of drafts of sand / earth of sand / sky of sand
Air / sand
A smithereen lands at my feet
Stand back when the shoulder rounds
The corner rounds
Too close if what you saw before / you saw
Published in Monthly Review