Rusty Morrison


I press my hand to moss, to dirt mounds, to sequoia’s blue needles fallen in brush. 
          This hand, which barely touched my mother’s corpse. 

How to wait with each thing
          until it splits open its category? 

What touching breeds. 
          A listening to death that thins my species-shell.

A few stones in my palm. 
          How absolute their impact.

To be a thing. Released suddenly, as she was, from tenacious self-production. 
          Though the sweat of it still wrinkled her bed sheets.

The sharp, cropped edge I call sorrow is as much impatience as it is grief. 
          Waste, a truer continuity, shadowless, its long hair never shorn. 

How do I look at anything without already making distinctions—
          here is sky and here, cloud.



Standing under dogwood, amid crocus.
          I too might be pale, closed inside summer’s nerve cell.

Hidden, the undersides of leaves
          remain spacious. 

There are no colors to help me recognize each coming disappearance
          before it occurs.

I would inhabit, instead, the sudden silent circle of birdsong
          that my carelessly loud walking dispersed.



My purpose—to walk with my mother’s last face—
          her mouth, fallen open.

Here in the open darknesses between trees’ closed silhouettes,
         without handing her death over into debt. 

Could I hand myself over instead, into its care?
          Not to call this responsiveness, nor expect to rest there. 

Whether fern or stone or petal I collect from the path, 
          no actual familiarity is in them, however veined or fluted they are with resonance. 

Recognition is its own fiber.
          Not part of the object it rests upon.

I look long into the impersonal primrose,
          curtailing my excess of personal announcements.

Using the proper acoustics.
          Singularly, as it pertains to each encounter. 



My dead aren’t the source of my grief, but only travel it. 
    The way wild grasses travel this hillside. 

An early moon passes into my sight and is lost there. 
              Only its echo is left. 

Though I can’t name the sounds moon passes through
              to disappear.

Skin is a close relation of future, maybe a daughter. 
            Witless as any surface to what it witnesses.

Operatically acquisitive, each pore.
            Impossible to separate receptors from the received.

Future isn’t quickly recognized, but hints of resemblance are discernible. 
          On the skin, flowering jasmine.




Morning air, taut with cold, as any memory is thick with forgetting. 
          Terse likelihood: that I understand nothing of death but my own astonishment. 

Tree-line, water’s edge, places that borders gathers against. 
          What a body might verge upon, which it can neither tame nor test. 

Sly, I want to call it, but the swallow simply fattens air with his spareness.
          Until he disappears.

Margins can be un-generous—the false calm
          a trespassing body takes as welcome. 

With my fingertips, I indent the drying mud along creek’s edge. 
          Patternless order, restorative.

Snow, still visible off-trail in thin, melting patches. 
          From shimmer to shiver, an opacity yields.