“Hydroponic,” digital art, by Marcela Bolivar, 2014. Used with permission.

by Simon Perchik

Now that it’s raining you can forget
—let gravity do the work
and this rake, half bare, half

at attention through the circle
that holds the Earth in place
clearing the path the dead remember

though these leaves must be wet
cascading past savanna to savanna
as primordial headwaters spreading out

so many years apart and always
there’s room for more dead
whose million year old cry

will sound the same a million years
from this tree calling, calling, sleepless
—you don’t need to find out

—it’s enough when it rains
you can lean down and grasp hand over hand
without caring why or holding back.


Here, there, the way silence
tows you below the waterline
and though you are alone

you’re not sure where her name
is floating on the surface
or what’s left

grasped by a single wave
that never makes it to shore
splashes as if this pen

is rowing you across the stillness
the dead are born with
—you are already bathing, half

from memory, half by leaping
from the water for flowers
growing everywhere—for you

this page, unclaimed :a knife
dripping with seawater
and your throat.


Even grief is passing you by
though you waited in the open
had a fondness for calendars

—dozens! drying
the way ocean nets are dragged
behind the day after day

who no longer ask but come
for the silence snapping them up
to be picked clean in a room

opening everywhere as seawater
or is it already Spring
impatient, wants the bed empty

and though you don’t move an inch
the flowers are generous
never in the way, come and go

with trust in their eyes
—rage is helpless here
has to listen for a change

how warm the dirt is
and under your tongue
more rain, how easy it was.


The same dingy elevator
not in service
though to wish is the easy part
—once its doors are sealed
the gust likes it in the back
and you make good time
cut the sky in half :both doors
opening the way your foot
fell suddenly between

—you stumbled in front a butterfly
that no longer moves, its wings
folded over, changing again
into an evening spread out
from the bottom up
reaching across a road
that stays dark more than the others
lifts its dirt to your shoulders
and along the helpless buttons
lets it fall, bathing you
floor by floor, any day now.


Going somewhere with you
is all it holds on to
—a single blanket

the kind the dead carry
over them
—you can’t tell the difference

though you wish there were
—to warm is all it knows
and you are led under

till your mouth opens
looking for her
—to kiss, empty her throat

with your own—on faith
you stretch out
bring back to the room

her damp scent
tied at one end
and not the other

—with both eyes closed
you show her her picture
without thinking.

omega man

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poetry has appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, The North American Review, Poetry, The New Yorker, and many others. His work is collected in twenty books, most recently Almost Rain (River Otter Press, 2013). Library Journal called him “the most widely published unknown poet in America.”