The Safest Place To Be

is inside a bookshelf not breathing,
learning How the Mind Works and
The Peloponnesian War. As for suffocation,
it is knowing the area beneath the curve;
without this how will the lake be emptied,
and who will hold the girders in place with
chains of flawless steel?

I myself have never made anything standing
that could stay standing. I am susceptible both
to heat and cold, not partial to either, and
I step outside and walk across to that farther shore,
thinking of silence turned to skin.

There is no dreaming but a thought
long and slow like a wave, and fresh skin, wet
and gasping like a swimmer far from land.
There is no wind but the wind I carry with me.
And no ocean, and no rain.

And there are birds that fly for months and months over water
without ever seeing land.


Winner of the Francis Bergen Prize.