from Part 2

In The First Place

But a name stuttering on the page, a changeable                          
son looking for his American skin, the untattooed                       
blank beginning, 
                            the world a small stateroom on a ship
churning its wake in a harbor
flecked with debris and spiteful
        world a small kitchen with fleeing
cockroaches, chipped enamel table and 
silverware drawer clashing into the night,
world a theater with dusty drapes
and backstage noise,

world the space between the clasped hands
of a man and woman looking out at the river—

in that space the heat of bodies, a fretful  
chronicle to be made  
                                   where bird and window collide,
the flight toward the invisible
              the soul’s confusion in going back—
                          until in old age, 
far south of that city, you see the draped moss
on live oaks,
                     hear sea crows caw in palmettos
lining a beach, 
                         and now you inhale the odor of a lagoon,
at night the sour lower level,
                                                now you feel a 
tidal pull in the small recesses behind a glance,                                    
                                                                             the wrinkling
song of a dry day in a strong sun
where history accuses,
history desires,               
history forgives.
John Allman | Mudlark No. 37
Contents | Nocturne