archives fall 2007




it was in the middle of night
middle of dying     houses slept
we did not sleep     it was not
dark     it was not dark

memory not so much a plow
not the fierce direction     into
the layered ground     but light’s
refraction     light’s breaking

we surround the hole of the
room of dying     of her mouth
the hole of clear air     portal
of waiting     watching the hole

breaking against one bright
surface     alighting on others
on leaf and on face     on
water     gray as a breastplate

oxygen    the instruments of
medical measure     ministered
below the dresser’s figurine
Mary     dress pink as a mouth

breaking against one daughter
taking a pulse     one praying in
a corner     in the breath’s
duration     in the indrawn span

to see it simply as lost     blood
pressure     breath’s cessation
one unreleased gasp     to see it
as body     parting with function

her face     a fall leaf parchment
I am writing     her face a love
I am writing     a parchment love
the parchment     I am writing

breaking against the huddle of
us     the scatter of us in her room
in other rooms trailing     news
of the one     the one breathing

and no alarm     in the arrival
something like a cheer     going up
among us     the accomplishment
of the arrival     cheer and wailing

memory not so much catching
as caught     in the labyrinth
designed like a thumb’s whorls
caught     while in wonder’s order

then there was the speck they
saw     in the room     the green
live contraption     contriving grief
the grief green in December  


Rick Barot is author of The Darker Fall,  (2002, Sarabande Books).  His work has appeared in numerous publications, including The Virginia Quarterly Review, The New Republic, The Paris Review, Poetry, and The Threepenny Review.  His second book, Want, is forthcoming from Sarabande Books in 2008.  He teaches at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma and in the Warren Wilson Program for Writers in North Carolina.