Lillian Kalish

what’s been & what hasn’t

one week before christmas
            a case of men
            a whole briefcase full

a brush of air grazes your neck
are you there?
             turning empty
to an elevator room

you wanted to believe in the face of the other
            ‘a thing among things’
said a philosopher man who escaped much horror
            and still saw light

your calloused hands and his too
            drop to the sides like anchors

it may not be but it is
            prophetic to know your proximity
to ruin. whether by hand
            or breath or worse.

the briefcase of men overturned
we were returned another
            past. are you here?

mind control erodes memory like a crumbling bluff
            sand  and soot cascade down
the homes of ground squirrels
            now exposed, which for humans,
                                                human women –
if our likeness could be found
            in small, sweet things – 
means breaking up
            of our frail roots,

temporarily tethering us to our dens
            drills pummel earth and i fret over
the brutality made

here by association
            as dirt uplifts dirt,
the burrowed network
            of mothers, escape routes,
a harvest of intimacies, thieved in broad daylight