Two Poems

Michael Wasson

Face-to-Face with One of the Gods

'éetu: so be it
, he says—
& I ignite a flame

striking a wooden match
along the torso of

my god: a face mirroring
a boy afraid of only him-

self: a shadow
spills behind us

like long standing trees
on the first broken

morning of the new year:
he slides a finger inside

my mouth: a forgotten bird-
song droning louder than

our shivering: my tongue
I feel bruising: his fingertip

somehow a softened pit
of fruit: this sugared

nail: my mouth shut
as I look up toward him

in the light: wind
through the trees: wind in

his matted fur: my hair
a forest fire: our faces now

gone—but the taste
of one last chance

to live.

o. unilateralis s. l.

      Dead ants were found under leaves, attached by their mandibles,
      on the northern side of saplings ~25 cm above the soil. – S. Anderson

You wear your bones outside

your skin / a lifetime of terror

in those ribs / you've been dancing

like a fox diving into hard snow

because hunger hums just there

beyond the body / you feel it

move through you like another

voice pressed to your bare throat /

now follow me the scented ghost

whispers between these trees

still clapping their hands / for you

are the bruised carpenter / my lord

building the last end of his life

as an undone bridge of dry bones

& quqú quqú like severed hooves

fastened to all these wetted arms

in the trees / your neck hanging

from invisible birds caught broken

in midflight / your mouth sealed

to the widest vein found / nearest

to what the body remembers

of those long winter skies / we are

forgiven / when we praise the ghosts

leaving their footprints to follow

in the forest we think summer

burning among the frozen limbs

of these pines / here is home

& here you are / with every fire

cap & spore mushrooming through

you & that thorning head / I touch

after climbing the winded

aspen of this boyhood / an ant

smeared in a dab of sap / you

bored into a clay pot holding

a memory / your taste moving

across my slow fruiting tongue.