“Orpheus Wanders Out of the Wood” and “Eurydice in Woodshop”

Poetry

Orpheus Wanders Out of the Wood

Were you following your own wound back? First
scratch of skinned descent. Your parents must’ve
been distant gods for you to appear in
the wind of forest trails, patching home

from what a song provides. Scattered notes.
Nuthatches, like siblings, imitate
your trill. Brown boughs bending ear enough
for walls. Didn’t your father press

the hearts he found unreachable there?

No wonder songs are so full of denial. And what
did you do about that? Turned from blame—Atlas
hoping to shift Earth from his shoulders. It’s hard

unlearning your father’s pursuits. Every
nightmare of sinking like the first night
after she left—You assumed it enough

just to rise out of that day. I guess
any singer focuses inward. Blinded.
Trying to understand where their love’s gone.


Eurydice in Woodshop

Air, a good partner, accepting cues—
the easy infection of others’ choices. Here,
pierced woodwind. Even under
helicopter blades. It cycles—
pine – cherry – oak; the whole forest
stacked in separate corners. Intimate now

with steel. I do the needlework
my mother left me—finding the seam
of things. Placing plank where a toothy kiss
splits perfect. I measure twice until

I only have to measure once. Like everyone
I build shorthands – / / ○ – a binary code
simplifying action. Sometimes the strikes

are his mouth—a voice every mother
loved. They swallow the circle’s cloud—
the smoke mixed on his tongue, heady,

displacing all my work’s hum—a blessing
he was aware of. Sometimes the circle
is just two strikes

sewn together. Am I the whole,
or the space sunk through? The air
is pernicious. Puts a slow timber of thistle

in the lung. Wood air, scything even
the smell of metal unless there’s blood. & today
a whorled board jumps. Burr

rising red beneath my skin. Nasty
snakebite
, Persephone murmurs. Description,
close as anyone gets to comfort here—the words
a ghost veil threading my cheek. I trace those

faults. How certain seams zip back up
& others only open. Orpheus dreams his
voice presses split planks back
into tree. The congregation of birds
that would follow. He talks that way
sometimes. Beautiful & unrealistic.