Simon thinks a kiss is both the life and death of God.
He says Alyosha was right all along,
but I don't know who that is. The truth is,
for all its humorless tilling and bad stabs at balm,
kissing accomplishes nothing but restlessness
and a dry nose. What makes it irresistible
is its wetness like some half-thought
that keeps me curling forward. If it weren't
for clothing or ice, I'd never really
want to be dry. I'd hate everyone but breasts
and dawn like a spoonful of black oiled wool.
I love my mother, but I wish she were happier.
If I could build a place for her to rest, I'd build
the center of a peony bud, and her parents
would be alive like two ants setting her free.
I found my first haunting
hanging from the roof by his enormous hands.
I did not think the dead needed saving
from the weakness of their grip,
but as it turns out their screams
are more honest than wolf crying.
I am going to kill you, he said,
and still I retrieved a ladder
and helped the haunting down.
I am going to kill you, he said
as finally we stood beside each other.
The grass was tall
and beneath the grass I felt remorse
like a line of insects crawling up my legs.
The haunting lowered his head
and began to weep—he could not
fulfill his duty, so I took my shirt off
and gave it to him. The shirt
I had found earlier in the day
in a birdbath no bird would bathe in.
No bird would bathe in it.
BRETT DeFRIES is a native Kansan but now lives in Missoula, Montana. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Colorado Review, West Branch, Eleven Eleven, Laurel Review, New Orleans Review, Phoebe, and elsewhere.