the wood is already swollen

t. tran le


window frame sticking to the storm
blooming through it & a sky widens its wet mouth.
Birdie swallows a yawn that tumbles 

back over her tongue. the whole world languid
in the molasses of early evening. Birdie & I
are wary of this summer shower 

water falling like grain from a lopsided tin
the moon stalks to the left & rain breaks
on the sidewalk below, rivers run

gashes across infrastructure—
sometimes Big City rain is toxic, it is what it is.
sometimes rainwater blows fresh rashes 

onto my knees, pink & red rolling hills blush up
the fatty handles of my thighs.
my hands become apparatus for smothering

fingers curled into hooks
digging into the fever of my legs
but who brings only hands to meet embers?  

yet here I am, Midas of Inferno
in the cradle of a slow burn with no flame
a hot hot heat: 2011 drought down south kind of heat

all summer long the sun behind our heads
like monsignor holding homily
warm hand on each crown

confessions slipping through our lips like spit
I don’t remember their names
all the people with aspirations of wizardry

shooting roman candles at each other
on the 4th of July: the fire got to our brains
each of us glowing coals

I too lost track of my body in the slip of sweat
but now I’m at this window & Birdie is bored
watching the rain drape over Manhattan 

here gray looks like jellyfish bodies lining a shore
laid thick & ballooned with venom
bloated umbrellas cascading like froth into tide 

the first time I met the Atlantic ocean
I offered it peace/ did it promise peace to me?
my mouth is molded to billow away from the sea

variously weighted air & dampness
shrug of the earth shifting through my lungs
I am familiar with combing the air

humidity in Houston often reads one hundred percent
four million people breathing water together

Visual Art: Clifford Prince King, The Day I Learned to Love Myself.