Russel Swensen


"hail muse! etcetera"


There you are, in the emerald water of the public fountain
on Santa Monica flickering like a brass coin how mossy you
are how true my little story I wrapped you in a frayed black
cloth I left you there, I am sorry but I did, story try to under
-stand, I did not know what to do with you, I could not dress
you, I could not stand you, I propped you up in the leaves,
I fed you hymns, story where are you now, I need you
once again, you have slipped from my grasp, I miss the bruising
of your wrists, your insistence on making sense, your this then
this, story I think I loved you, once, I think I told you twice,
left at first light, did not leave a note, tracked quartz
down the hall, as if your feet were breaking with every ginger
step, story I am sorry I never gave you wings, that I never
let you paint your room or choose your own ending, that
I went through the motions, always, story you rummaged
through the heat-sink of my chest, you left not a crumb,
but I follow you nonetheless, story like a storm crow, story
you're breaking up, story of going through a tunnel, story
you'll have to speak up, story keep it together, story try
to stand, story that is all echoes, all plan, story that circles
the wagons, story that is surprisingly prim (but I know where
you've been) story that closes at the neck with a simple clasp,
story that does not shatter, story of  oil then water,
story of two who came asunder, story you are the one
I tell this to, there is no other, story the heart is a small
chamber, large enough to swallow the sound of its
own breaking, my least, my little one, there were other
stories, I used to tell them to you, like water, clear water
touching shore.