Tracing Magdalene


In the distance, a forest.
I thread your light through the trees,
cross-stitch the canal of your throat.

Stitching on canvas
is a way of stepping over the river
to gather material from the other side.
Pine. Birchbark.
Patterns gnawed into white
I carry back across the waves
where I hang your blue dress
in the breezeway to dry—
you in the doorframe
against the four edges of night.


How fast the twilight
shifts across canvas. Lit
by the last exhale of sun, a stream of birds
glimmers over glass.

Standing now in half-light
at the boundary of a sea,
I draw a line to demonstrate
the emptiness. Shades of gray
receding to snow,
miles yet to travel
across the frozen sound.


Left alone in the dark
I no longer know the difference
between water and air
or which I should breathe.

When the night arrives,
I am still here. It is still winter.
The clouds still advancing over your eyes.

There are windows but I pass by,
holding your boundary in my hand.


Looking out the window to the shoreline
I reach for your breath.

Your footprints on the white beach: callas.

Facing the snow,
the frozen ocean,

your back of clouds.


I crashed upon your shore. A sea
I have no name for. Now even the sunrise
cracking open the desert
becomes only a dream of you.

I go to the crest of the dunes,
wait amidst the splintered
stars jutting from the dust.

I wait past dusk, its spiraled
mollusk. My ear is a pebble; I
swallow the light,
disappear into the seamless
continent of night.


There are miles yet to travel through the nether lands.
A winding road bordered with poppies. Yellow
ochre. Iron oxide. On what does the intensity
of color depend?
The proximity of my easel to the spilled
apple blossoms. But it is winter and my window
is the same thought continued: spear-like forms,
your ghost suspended. Your voice a sharp wind
rising from the still air, a doorway
ajar inside the molecule’s bone closet. Your face
a painting of an ice hut where the white fish
dart beneath your blue dress of snow
and there is no hope to wake you.


I am walking with you towards the broken horizon.
No witnesses.
Not even the trees sketched on the horizon.
Not even the night snowing from the vent in my ribs.

I dream a pathway to the edge of my canvas.

Beyond that you.