St. Stephen’s Day: home unsettled, 
a rupture, and here the ruched 
branch has turned itself outward,

its soft, bright innards held up 
along the path. At first, a golden 
lobe on the oak, leaking 

in the mist—fungus, “yellow 
tremble,” translucent and half-aglow 
with its own light; then more

appearing as I walk. A strange thing
being birthed alone out here
on the edges of the town, 

the slow year becoming flesh 
in amniotic color; its soft fruit 
hung along the corridor of gorse,

and all the while a constant 
systole and diastole in the fog
as though the whole wrecked world 

were a heart, beating. I stand here
for a while, staring at this half-born 
life oozing in the cold, come unstuck,

brought out too soon. Weeks ago,
in the concrete subzero of Berlin, 
we huddled on the scrubland 

by Ostbahnhof, watched the sun dip,
the light shifting blue, all the streets sinking. 
Then, a reprieve—into the club,

its vaulted columns, the steel bars
and long-stemmed lilies, and the heat
scouring our skin. The building

was organ-warm, pulsing.
Inside, long passages of people, 
deep sound rippling outward,

and somewhere near the core
a room of masks, apparatus of leather, 
a censer of white menthol swung 

and resting at eye level. 
In the cubicle, a white pill held up,
broken—the heart fluttering,

and then the music, a congregation 
undoing their bodies over
and over into beaming shapes. 

We found a hidden place, turned 
ourselves outward in the humid cell—
bloom and spirit unspooling.

Back here on the heath, running
last summer until our faces 
burned, we stopped for breath 

in the gorse tunnel—how eerie 
it was at dusk, some dimension 
we’d slipped into by chance. 

I sprinted off into the dark 
and you bolted to catch me, 
held a blackberry to my mouth—

the sudden tang of it—plucked 
too soon. My body winced 
and smarted into color, the day

distilled then taken gloriously
inside—host of the world—
and then a kiss—something

soft and secret and unseen. I know 
I would kneel to you—blood, yes,
spine, lips. Leave me always

in these waste spaces, where
my head is tilted up to God
and I am a wild thing, glowing.


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Published: March 2, 2020