(Vietnam War Memorial)
The kind of morning a plane could lift into from runway and disappear
swallowed by fog: wing tip, cockpit.
The kind of morning that clings to face coat wet seams of umbrella
nylon spread like surrender across
ribs, which in this tamped-down light appear skeletal. What we don’t see
up top, a snub-nosed bomb dropped into jungle disappears the minute it’s released
swallowed by jungle canopy ropy vines.
A child runs screaming trails shreds of skin white
Names start at the ankle. Mist gathers in ghost patterns—
looking down I see tennis shoes, notched rubber soles.
How sleek, invisible the undergrowth
swift multiplicity of black granite pushing against itself, pressed into earth
feet step independent of volition
faces made flat shiny pressed into stone.
Harsh geese overhead mistaken for gulls, firebirds
(no we’ve not forgotten)
what mistaken for silence becomes a fall, a slide without side rails
each step notched into the next widening, stacking granite higher
above the head and heavier.
Atop the head there’s a blue of sorts but I see only gray
fog that clings, will not let go
that mistaken for names (propagates is the word) swiftly replicates itself
widens then splits.
Breathing’s difficult now. The constriction of apex, its terrible reach, spectacle seamed
black on black
made ghosts, made echoes, made a red plastic geranium crimped in half draggled in gravel
a sore remnant.
Rain runs fingers through names. Like all good men, keeps accounts from the house
there on the hill what you see once lifted from the pit
slatted runway into air, up top where breathing’s easier, where color’s turned back.
Up steps up pillars behind the white lattice, Mr. Lincoln in his counting house
eating bread and honey.
Granite seeps from sight as through a sieve
gashes in vision sucking it past in pieces, splinters
the sign for a man whose name begins with a cross
circled off a closed circuit pricked as if by the point of a knife.
Snow crunches under foot again the grackle of geese.