OPEN ROAD REVIEW POETRY PRIZE 2015 (Joint Runner-up)

It was a needless rinse, this bowl
half wood, half smelling from wood
that’s been taken away, trembling

as if today will be its last
though you gather up the spoon
holding it close and your arm

keeps it warm, covered with a stream
beginning to root as the emptiness
you lift to your lips without trying.

*
This tattoo once had the courage, a rose
surrounded by summer evenings and skin
that remembers how warm the name was

–what’s left is covered with the forever
growing on your arm as the voice
belonging to a dead woman making room

for an immense sea, silencing the Earth
from outside –here, was a shoulder
here, her lips –here the dress

becomes too heavy, falls into you
as driftwood –here was the heart, naked
beginning to snow –here was the sleeve.

*
This spoon all night on tiptoe
listening for the careless splash
that will never make it back –the cup

half hazelnut, black, half filled
so its prey can be tracked in the dark
the way one mouth finds another

feeds on the voice that can’t escape
–hour after hour being eaten
by the silence longing for the light

though even with the walls in place
even with her hands over your eyes
begging you from behind Guess who

you are circling the room, flying blind
spread-eagle, can hear the You
no longer moving between your teeth.

*
You bask beside her comb
the way a bullfighter is trained
emptying each blade and afternoons

that come over you as the flourish
more beautiful than a woman’s breath
suddenly there –now is the time

for the lunge her breast makes
when touched in the dark, refreshed
though there are no braids left

only her death hidden under your sleeve
that belongs in stone
as if what it holds is never enough.

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Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. His most recent collection is Almost Rain, published by River Otter Press (2013). For more information, including free e-books, his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com.

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