Cylinder of Reason
Rich Ives

We had water, but we didn’t make sense like water.

Each name we gave one to the other and released
and began again inventing the moment beyond
the moment. It doesn’t weigh itself down, this mute
extension of a man wearing his need like a hunting coat,

his words heavy pellets of buckshot flying away with
the bird as intended. And the man asks the woman if she is
darkness, and she must say yes, and she comes to him,
naked as a saint, and this is what makes him rest.

We knew the complex meticulous speech of traveling water,

but water doesn’t hold itself to its definition––
just try to put your hand on its shoulder and have
a friendly conversation before it rolls over and falls
away from you, an unknown part of itself already in place,

like the momentary organization of a flight of swallows
lifting from order to order as if there were none
when there is just too much to count (a piece of cloth
torn from the lovers in the church steeple taught them).

We thought we held ourselves out to ourselves like water.

I’m the Mushroom Man. I’m the Ginseng Hunter.
My forest is a corner. I sing like a shrew. I anticipate.
I’m my own restrained comedy of potential
charged with a late arrival at the locked gate.

Inept breeze that I am, I tried to be thicker water because
in my dream-letter it said catacombed with need. It said
antique honeycomb chambers yellowed and stained.
It said one ant dragging a dead wasp down a hole.

We had that kind of water, but it didn’t make sense like water.