After the Calm

by Paul Nemser

Our furniture is turning to nails’ ends and cows’ ears.
We’ve stored no provisions for molassesless times.
Like used-up, riled-up hives – our hearts.
Like pancakes burning in old butter – our backs.

On the bus ride after the geriatrician,
we smell angels powdering the breezes with lavender
and sit down to dream, and lie down to wake
and wake to read the split nutshells in our pockets –

to predict that a sheep will dance with weevils
and a salmon lay down with a leaning willow –
thinking someone always wants
the rides nobody wants, which breaks our calm.

Bus-music jostles us, like shifting tide
where islands once appeared upside down in the harbor,
and the loudest movement was a clam dropped on rocks,
a shard-splatter, a ganglion.

Bus crunches branch. We seize up. We sway.
I cradle your knuckles, as in olden days,
when we dipped a few fingers in wine.
We brushed only each other’s lips,

crooned only songs titled, ‘I will’
for hours, in a field momentarily green.
I will. I will survive. I will rise. I will follow.
I will be. I will wait – for you.

Honey, wake up, you say, kneeing my hip
and smelling of eucalyptus. I love your eyes,
especially when we’re shaken, flickering in glass, in weaves
of raspberries that thorn across fences fallen to gaps.

The bus lets us off near a panic of birds
who pluck the fall-aparts rotting red. Beaks veer drunk
into a rising cloud, and we get silly and scream
like wing-ier species that tear prey to bubbling violet:

“O goddess of raspberries, grant us red hands!”
Shrieks, chucks, pipes – where from? Lilt of songbirds
in a social praxis? In the frantic, dizzily companionable
wane of this day neither still nor sweet.