Spirit Medium

From the Archives

From The Brown Issue

Now that my pen is made of glass
I pray to write of this loud tree
and not simply fashion—blues and organdies
and other appurtenances—taffeta, pagoda sleeves.

Now branches scratch the bowl of sky, leaves
massed loosely in torsade, flounces
deepening to knitted flowers, dead hair
braided into wigs—a tree on fire with birds.

Nothing sounds like this loud tree—branches
have grown richer, louder still. Each bird like
a smoke-stained leaf, like mittens worn at meals.

Flocked with birds, the tree remains. Wings puff
and return like crinolines in wind.

Life now: delicate butterfly, a hairnet made
of my own hair, parasols raised everywhere,
tasseled roots and ribbon ruches, sugar-lead,
bone dust, feather. Day and night, the sky
makes permanent the tree’s singular pattern:

a dress burnt into skin. Now that this pen
is made of glass, I cannot measure
a sunbeam—I cannot catch a flame
with these lace fingers. Light darts from every
reflective surface like a velocity itself.

Branching, birds, and since you left: everything
I wear is made of glass.

Still, your image has reached my eye so gently
inside this light. Upon this slant
of sun cutting across this page. My body burning
for you like a tree.

Once philosophers tried to weigh a sunbeam, built
a machine so delicate, thinner than a fly’s wing.
But the sunbeam left the sun more quickly, could not
be balanced on a scale. Love itself

is made of glass, is the burning tree. Ethereal lace,
brocade of all our seeing, weightless
yet still falling upon that sight, belongingness

what is held by the beloved. What bright
light can be seen so clearly, unobstructed
like sunbeam passed through glass, or your
voice branching like the loudest tree, the place

where your hand lands so gently, then lifts off
before I even feel it. Like a thousand
ruffles pulled

over my head, like a thousand birds.