We sit perfectly still & everything coming for us can wait.
It’s an arbitrary rebirth,
a new season.
It’s July & the basil has gone to seed. Here lies
this red clay underpinning,
the wormhole desert,
Light wanders & yet here we are, unmasked,
building our houses from scratch. Repairing
each catch-and-release fish (stitching
fish scale to fish scale),
gathering Oolong leaves for tea, guessing
how long seagulls in the alley will outlast us.
Our wine-stained lips upend the twilight,
this impeccable angle.
You’re waiting tables in Gunnison;
Grand Junction. Fruita is blood-orange dark.
Your hands are covered with silt, dry from the hard water
as you scale the Book Cliff mountains. No matter what
fierce place you walk through you can bet money
someone is smoking outside a stripmall & the font on the town
bumper sticker is Arial Bold.
Photographers there work on commission & feral
animals spread out along branches of the Colorado River.
A gray hair floats in the decaf coffee pot at the bagel shop.
Foxes scatter the front yards.
A neighbor’s cat slinks house-to-house climbing the porches.
A peach carries each season of sun.
TO SEE WHAT SURPRISES
Maybe, he thinks, it is like the Noh: whenever the script says dances, whatever the actor
does next is a dance. If he stands still, he is dancing.” –Jack Gilbert
Have them take turns spinning the globe /
pinching the electronic map
to see where they end up next.
Hurry them through five
states to stumble upon the grueling Utah desert.
Burn their bridges for the sake of ashes.
Move them on,
slide them down to the next bar. Pour his gin.
Pour her whiskey.
Have them ponder what it means to be seated,
what it means to be in motion, and if there is any
difference between the two.
Let the years fall off like sand as the layers sift,
sift until nothing is left but ecstasy and bones.
Have them saunter toward the next room.
Daniel J. Rortvedt is an occupational therapist, educator, writer, and editor. He completed degrees at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Boston University. Previous work appears in Houseguest, The Montucky Review, and elsewhere. He lives in the Midwestern United States with his wife and children.