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schulenburg

 

H.L. Hix

 

Chapped Hand Blues

Her hands stayed chapped all the time . just like the woman
who inhabited my dreams . It was how I knew
Her hair the next day . copied the dream-woman’s hair
from the night before . The dream-woman drew me down
in the barn behind a house . she loved as a girl
but I never saw . An owl perched in the rafters
watching with her weightless eyes . It was how I knew

.

Evidence flattens . A brittle browning flower
shadows its matching bruises . on facing pages
to say someone young . loved me once almost enough
Black and white the soldier smiles . who killed my mother
before I was born . who looks exactly like me

.

I try to forget my dreams . but still they recur
a woman inhabits them . the owl in the barn
anything I need to know . she says with her eyes
we wait together . for a fire to burn the barn
so I can see it . shining in her weightless eyes
Her hands stay chapped all the time . Whatever I know
comes from the visions she gives . that I don’t believe

 

 

Empty Room Blues

Wall clinging to the burren . flat stone on flat stone
enclosing nothing . only measuring the mist
scribbled signature . half-sister to the river
Bright orange range fire . rewriting the horizon
yellow bales of hay . scattered across a green field
graying rows of fenceposts . warping loose their nails
knothole in one board . robin cocked on another

.

The elders still write . or rather what they wrote once
remains legible . two-hundred eighth-note blackbirds
inscribe a phone line . icicles mark a gutter
How long ago did they die . who remembers them
what can remembering mean . but to read their hand

.

It began in a body . that first character
one soot-stained index finger . swiped across elkhide
hand holding a bone . idly burrowing in dirt
fist furying flint . forth and back across sandstone
meditative tap and swirl . of bare feet in dust
one body beyond itself . branding another
spoke to bodies yet unborn . and we understood

.

As termites winnow timber . patiently to dust
as long rains incite hillsides . as wind sculpts sandstone
you my hallowed hollowed me . You might have saved me
if love belonged underground . attending echoes
of occasional droplets . dying in its rooms

 

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