The Kind of Morning

                    (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
          feet bare.

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.