Daniel Biegelson

Let me speak of the splendor of Your power and Your wondrous deeds.
we walked into the trees / Afraid, letting our syllables be soft / For fear of waking the rooks… / That, then, is loveliness, we said, / Children in wonder watching the stars, / Is the aim and the end.
—Dylan Thomas
‘Does the daylight astonish.’ Does the orange. Does the navel.
                   The chromosome. The absence of silence. Who asks.
Who asks for wonder. Please. Permit me
                   to open my chipped beak. To sing. To signal. To send
sugar through to the suffering. A pair
                   of raptors seemingly confront
a parapet of smaller sparrows
                   all perched on the limb of a ghost tree.
A trick of light. Elusive needles the color of bone. Barely
                   discernible in the shift of morning
sun as the roots of each tree
tangle and reach out to one other.
Once we—the we that was          and is          dying
more rapidly
                   of natural/unnatural causes
day by day—called you
the chicken hawk          for your great and terrible deeds
                   of expanse and plunder.
So. Here I am. Hineni. Without refrain. Praying
                   for contravention. In the morning.
In the early evening
                                                            the crows on the peeling
sycamore recognize us. If there is enough light.
Left. Just at the stretch of the tree. For them.
You understand. Not the same
for you and me.          A hallowed/hollowed
out yellow.          A drape of gold.
I want to wear. To go walking as one of your creatures.
Dear Affection.
                   I have for you a garment. To increase
the delicate atmosphere of your body.
Yours & mine.
A part of the sieged biome.
Dear Affliction. For a long time I did not know how
                   to write out          of sickness. Physical illness.
Recoil. Pain          no pitted viper would visit upon a viper.
So constant. So complete. I can’t recall
                   my body before. The pleasure of pleasure and the pleasure
of forgetting the body altogether. Or the tenor
of conversations
in midstream. Failure of form.
Now guilty of gilding the snake. Converting our exchange
                   into a river. Which flows.
And yet. I am t/here still building with sand and straw
                   in my nose and mouth. Eyes and ears. Still
                   on the rhythm of the nile’s floodwaters.
Still lightly pulling up the tussled covers over your sweet sleeping body.
                   Grasping for patience. Begging. Bartering. Mourning.
No cool shadow from these leaves.
Instead. Exposed.          Kept alive          ‘but to what purpose’
by my root-mates.          On the precipice.
On the precipice of losing the light. The sparrows.
                   The chicken hawks. The american crows. But at times
I think ‘Let all who are hungry
                   come and eat.’ Not simply. Locusts.
We bundle tightly—how else—against the burning cold. We wear
                   our thoughts. Our speech. Our actions. A body
consists of its being. Plus time. In time. I have lost the sense
                   that I am one with my skin. So. Compelled. We must
do. Then understand.          Who ripped whom from their hinges.
                   So. I critique myself on graph paper
and singe/sign myself an encaustic
                   and what I own you will own. So we are we.
                                      Gently. With glitches. The ‘owners
of a 21st century mind’
of mirrors and confection. Mixed and allotted metaphors.
Brainiac and Mysterio. Confetti
of canopied light. And all around our ‘companions
                   are falling’ without wings
thinking you do not see
the roots of our design. The materials. Or our desire.
Where is it written          people of the people before
                   that you should be happy all the time. Sympathy
is in the dictionary. Said my two east borough
grandmothers. Respectfully. The eleventh commandment.
                   But yesterday I read an old folktale
to my round children
about an impoverished panda bear from a small village
                   who catches a raccoon
breaking and entering and offers
the confused bandit his only coat. Worn as it is. Then sits
                   unknowingly beneath an saw-whet
in a cedar tree. On the hillside. Tufts of dark
                                      grass. Darkened. Beneath the milk moon. Eluding
the brain’s visual processing. And my children
                   beneath a pillar of cloud and sky do not ask
about nakedness.          Later they struggle
                   out of their clothes to run through the sprinkler.
I wish I could keep this day in my pocket.
                   My daughter pronounces. My bucket
                                      is full. What does the angel
of history see
in the backyard
with blackened
feathers tightly
wrapped around
their body
back turned
to the charred future
eyes staring into
the alleyway
‘in which shine
the broken
pieces of a green
where at nightfall
its curtains
and an orange tabby
drinks from a puddle
with its red
papillae tongue.
Why is the angel
of death so easily
confused. We
have secret names.
Cells. Taxonomy.
Fingerprints. Our
own gait. Footfalls
crunch on gravel.
Crackle. ‘Echo in
the memory.’ Distinct
from the opalescent
grackle. And even
the crows know.
What is due.
Comes due.
Due. Dewdrops on frosted grass blades. In early morning. Out
                   by the woodpile. Blood. Too.
The unreal real skein of intestines. The bright unreal
                   real red. Of a possum or a raccoon or a house cat.
Perhaps. Impossible for the laymen to tell. Imagine.
Imagine an unending psalm.
                   Due. When we condense. The lungs expand.
I confess. I found the world. I said. Intact
                   with coastlines / glaciers / coral reefs / rainforests.
I found you. I said. Obsessed
                   with ‘the shape / the label / the labor / the color / the shade’
                                      of our inadequacy. Our incompetency.
Breath. Breath through your nose. And now
                   guilty—as I am—of life. Of painting myself
                                      to see myself. Of letting the heated wax drip
burn my skin          cool and harden.
An attempt to connect my thoughts. My speech. My actions. To you.
But of course          I wander          off course          in your wonder.
Perhaps. Too close for you to see. The answer.
                   Embarrassed. Over what is common. Our common root(s).
                   Our children          turn into us.          Convert us          into us.
                   One form          into another.
DANIEL BIEGELSON is the author of the forthcoming book Of Being Neighbors (Ricochet Editions) and the chapbook Only the Borrowed Light (VERSE). He currently serves as Director of the Visiting Writers Series at Northwest Missouri State University as well as an editor for The Laurel Review. His poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from Denver Quarterly, FIELD, Interim, RHINO Poetry, Timber, TYPO, and Zone 3 among other places.