The last time I saw Lucas Bernhardt, we carried a damnably rigid box spring down a narrow, twisting staircase with a low ceiling, into a basement apartment in Iowa City. Lucas stayed the year, but the box spring, as I’ve heard, only stayed the summer. Now Lucas has a young son, named Walter. We’ve published some other poems of his, here. — AS
The Approach of Little Lord Fauntleroy
I think of prenatal development
in terms of the theory of expansion:
a moment, yes, but more so a cloud
of cells flung from one another,
finding their outward limb (and here
I depart from the theory) at the walls
of the womb, and forming
through reconciliation the skin,
through obligation the bones and veins,
through cleverness the flesh.
When analogy snubs up to the rod
and flops away, it lands in a lake
in preference to our boat.
A storm has gathered before lunch.
Dad points at the wind-rustled
waters by the western banks.
Rains like these begin
with some difficulty.
The real pleasure is in the water,
and a lake is a friend to mind.
When I found you in a collapsed basement
curled up in the sediment like a seashell,
or in a mountain church asleep and laughing,
or in a cell aboard a foreign ship aroused,
or in the chain chop house back kitchen,
or by the shade of a tent pitched in sand
or the stillness of a half-built subdivision
beautified, I kissed my hand to the water
and the water hushed my guilt.
(In the textured ceiling…)
In the textured ceiling patterned crops
and one strange divot.
In the romance, all that popcorn
moves like the ocean.
He seemed to me a smear near Calais.
Seemed younger the nearer I stood.
Organdy flakes in winds and high seas,
our crew chases.
Faces are fields, in one the confliction of seventeen.
The way an arrogant mind sets off.
The twitch of that mind, the motionless twitch.
Some faces struck.
I wanted but could not stop.
The Magnolia tree grew into the house
and its roots compromised the basement.
Having forgotten its question, it wrote a letter
that could not finish. Inside, it turned to her in bed
as a little daylight filtered through.
As an explanation the footballs
I should be happy to meet with.
Shifting as needed, blurring as needed.
Uncle James was streaks of water
evaporating on the way down.
When his son lost his mind
only said son was surprised
at first. Hills all the way
to the sea, and to the sea
our extraordinary strength.