Keep Things in Perspective

Keep Things in Perspective

Kat Terban

The days keep serving up overcast skies but the air
is always dry and the plants are shriveling up with thirst;
yet the birds still sing, the fisher humps across the yard,
and the mornings, plangent with dew, conquers dread night.

Purple tipped fingers sifting through shells where blue
dunes hold the full tide’s wrack so wool dipped willful
in swift dye sought across ages, wrought by snails
soft from the sea. The past returns within us to live,

to turn to itself again, day upon day. It reaches through
our skin, our bones, to knell, to echo across tongues
at fireside. Fevered brows seek to be remembered when
embraced by cold shrouds. What has soft lips and a hide

that enjoys a feather-stiff curry brush? In the night, we
imagine our fingertips extending like quicks grown
beneath nails left long uncut, touching the window
as the first frost radiates out across one pane while laying

warm under another. Fresh fallen death crunching beneath
our boots: birch, maple, oak, hemlock, and walnut. Ferns
shifting from green to gold on the corner of River View
and Merrow. Water cools. Bubbles pop. The bottom

of the cup never has answers. It is empty. It is devoid,
burning away certitude. It is filled again with the lies
about how things couldn’t get any worse, where hope is flanked
by fear. Closed eyes linger on dusk’d lids and bring no safety.

Clouds crack and stars spill out along the edges. Long gusts,
uneasy wind breaks the peace between leaf and branch. A deer
steps into the flurried fall to lay athwart a gap at the base of two
young oaks. Birds eat the bones of bread, the entrails of yesterday’s

croissant, the burnt offerings of panko that’s dropped from fingers
baking. Clever beaks pecking at the crusts cut away and abandoned
by mothers. Spread wings swift in swooping down to pluck up
and devour the whipped stiff and custard smooth embryos of friends

and enemies alike. The unborn children of flowers are ground down
to paste inside gizzards during the short days of winter. The lumpy
oatmeal of the sky that started shearing off into flakes and drifting
toward the ground. We open our mouths and taste breakfast.

All of the wrong reasons were remembered, were recorded
as a stained outline on the concrete, found when the snow
banks melted the next spring. Deep loam held in the hand,
warmed, bedding for mammoth, gray-striped sunflowers

overhead, nodding in a light breeze. Three painted turtles,
faces raised, aligned on a log set and centered in an intermittent
pond surrounded by tufts of scarlet miniclover. Today, the sun
refused to set. It drunkenly stumbled across its zenith

then paused at the threshold where night sleeps before
tiptoeing the entire way ’round the horizon, drinking up
the bright blue of the sky. Mountains crumble into grit,
stars fall into singularities, and oceans expand as the dead

fill up what’s not bottomless. Rivers walk back upon
themselves, rejuvenating oxbows, eating the foundations
of the world. The universe breaths in the space between
atoms, gravity bends time, and everything becomes new born.

Kat Terban