Skip to main content
By Elena Karina Byrne

For Thomas Lux

                            I heard them, far-off, deep calling

from behind death’s invisible floor door. Their wallow

metronome from the after-rain mud was one giant body.

Arizona’s yellow arm’s length of light all the way

to my own body standing at the edge of their field held

me. I moved toward them and they toward me, as if to ask

for something from nothing, as memory does, each face


                            dumbfounded    …    dumb and found by

the timeframe of my own fear, surrounded at dusk.

There was a plastic grocery bag, its ghost body cornered

small against a tree, and there was a heavy smell.

Desolation is equal to contained energy now.

Their heavy bodies slow toward me, my own

slow inside their circle without kulning.


                            Kulning is a Swedish song for cows, not

a pillowcase pulled over the head. Here, the mountains could be seen

from far away. There’s an abandoned physics, a floor door,

my own head-call herding me, in-hearing nothing but them.

Bone for bone’s female indicates the inside

of the mouth when singing is grief alone and is curved.


                            You can’t stop shifting no matter how

slow. It sounds like confusion in one direction.

I wanted to tell you this in your absence. It sounds like the oak,

it sounds like the oak of floorboards in God’s head.


Notes:

The epigraph of this poem was originally omitted in the changeover to the new website. Because of this, reciting the epigraph is optional for the 2019-2020 Poetry Out Loud season.

Source: Poetry (September 2017)

  • Nature
  • Religion

Poet Bio

Elena Karina Byrne
Poet, editor, and multi-media artist Elena Karina Byrne is poetry consultant and moderator for The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, literary programs director for the Ruskin Art Club, and a judge for the Kate/Kingsley Tufts Prizes in poetry. She served as regional director of the Poetry Society of America for 12 years and has also served as executive director of AVK Arts.  

More Poems about Nature

Browse poems about Nature

More Poems about Religion

Browse poems about Religion