Barbara Edelman: Exoskeleton

Each trek has its own syntax.
My home on my back. My Quasimodo
shadow. I’m a slow beetle. Destination,
the top of a mountain, the Milky Way’s
veil and the silence. Each time I wake
in the night there’s a new sky. The Earth
spins faster up here.

Each time we rest in the desert,
I sleep; each time I sleep I dream
in stick figures. We are lower
than ocean. I slog across a ridge
to bury my dung. Night brings

an anarchist wind.  The tent is a flight
risk. Under the Milky Way’s map,
I dance on a sand hill
like a beetle on its dung ball.

Beneath the canoe, a school of dying
salmon. They rot as they swim.
Their disappearance begins on the inside.
They’ll become the river and the banks
of the river and food for the fry
of their fry. At the falls where they leap,
one Grizzly eats only
the skin. Gulls take the flesh.

Once, I lived beneath a mountain range
of roofs. Pigeons
stood watch on the shingles.

Once, I lived in a sweet stucco box
with vines at the windows, spiders
in the vines, guitar in the alley,
salt on the wind.

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