Rebecca Porte

It’s just like the day you discovered Sapphic

modernism       like trephination                       pane     of

surpassing clarity in a casement of

dank cream city brick




you call it a transom       I say fanlight     we

mean the thing perched on the door like a peacock

the thing that lets the light in so you can see

a child at her blocks




stacking foliate letters in primary

colors               —higgledy-piggledy            or so it

seems                           we start to doubt the degree to which all

these trees are random




these trees the child builds instead of houses

real habitats springing from artificial

ones like Athena from the head of Zeus             bright  

quick                inviolate




violet penumbras shed by eclipsing suns

at the moment souffler emerged as your breath

fully-fledged     artless as dawn at the movies

one grammar obscures




the bones of the first    cumulus on the face

of the deep       —in the beginning was the Word

and the Word was              a bird on reconnaissance

mission to the coast                               




 the crow comes back    and the cuckoo             scavenger

and plagiarist                 the dove never shows                we do

not acquire any language that does not

first acquire us




today it’s Attic Greek     tomorrow         we shut

the door on the attic     fanlight transom                        the

bric-a-brac we can’t excavate for fear of





leave:                the scaffold      gallowsbirds                  a cloisonné

bead rattling in a little cabinet

a gray clutch of letters               a stiff hank of hair

in the bathtub drain




rain plays its long vocabularies down pale

glass                 a homing pigeon burns through the white   night

on the hour      —the same homing pigeon always—                 

but never from home