A View of the Walk Home — Ben Meyerson



I
The sidewalks are whittled down to
thinned-out corridors that taper off
and dip hackles into asphalt — ideal
for sidling, smooth enough
that they may as well be road themselves:

I might miss the stumble,
the leveling off into an empty house.

What might happen should the land
arise — and I mean become —
beyond its guise? We have carved it
for set tokens, reined in its size
and stripped it of its grain —

landscape is a manner of burial, a host
of things that I might miss.

My speech strives to outrun yours. We are
outside a bar, an early night, ruddered
and spun between words and how mild
the weather has been — the vignettes
speed up accordingly, daring us
to take heed and strike up
even more of a lather.

Finally, it is one in the morning,
and the house is its own great country.

II
Though ruddered and spun between
worlds, there is always
a return to a particular patch
of sidewalk, a certain site ripe
for repair or excavation:

there is nothing in the steps themselves,
save for the character of the ground

covered. We can suspect — or believe —
that last variable to be altered each
time: maybe a fledgling foray into
drugs, maybe a solemn slant
of light, a mood, a lurch of
geology — something in flight
which has since remained earthbound.

Words are sudden material — the soil
that buries, the quartz that covers

and then flees the stone upon which
it has rested. The bar is no longer
in sight, the patch of sidewalk
no longer brushed by
buttery streetlight, and I
am not yet home (not yet).

The house is a great gaudy country
of pots and paint and my looming body.

III
And so we all loom and swell, fraying
upon contact. Like many, I imagine stories
about the people I pass — the narrow of
their faces after a trying day, then
those whom they have loved and
whose love they have refused:

I might miss the stumble,
the leveling off into an empty house.

On this given night, I am (however)
thinking of you. Like you, I struggle
to detect passage unless I have
felt its breeze against my sweat
or its lather on my stone:

even in death, I make indents in
specific soil and am interred

exactly — something that is mine,
no matter the ravages. There are entire
landscapes of loss: wind shunting
unkempt grass, carpeted moss
in the wet, and weeds wending round
pebble patterns, disrupting their scatter.

Bone-stalks of briars. Bones brindled
in bygone fires, buried. Nothing is ever hurried.

IV
The pace of my walk picks up against
night’s little teeth, a prickle of air that
drags like trudging through heath, fatigue
some dolmen stone propped at a mothering
angle, to blanket and to shield.

Words are sudden material, the soil
that buries, the quartz that covers, the shapes

that dissolve on sight, verging on
patterns in pebbles or sundry leaves,
then settling imperfect in aged
chalk, a crack in the sidewalk, your
voice slack with boredom and
slowly becoming real:

I struggle to perfect the shapes,
to fully constitute the bone geography.

How might I fit your presence into
its ruts, adjust the breadth of your
rock and sand the jut of your vertices
into something that will not cut? By barlight,
we are all abandoned — making you,
arranging the contours of the house.

I negotiate on those terms, burying
so that something here will always be mine.

V
Around me there are tall government
buildings with high-set cheeks, cement
flecked by sea-spray, unmoving and
direct in their gray, as if towering over
tenement gulls in the lull of a tide.

A country is moulded by borders; I make
the house with dreams beyond its doors:

when we shape the tombs, we lay
the landscape bare, then clutter its air with
things that we might miss. Beyond
the extent of burial, there is a sharp
drop — cliffs, a mercurial ocean,
the hint of more earth to carve:

even in death, we make indents and
claim breath, our eyes starved edgewise,

having gazed into the chasm. Stone betrays
its age in stretched green, wigged with lichen
and insistent grass grown from guzzled
sea moisture and spread out
against pebble patterns — a blush
that blooms upon an unaccustomed face.

I saw you rise in tatters from the brush —
in pots, in paint, athwart my looming body.

VI
Cliffsides only crumble to remind us
that we are not sleeping: to sleep is to
be traveling, to let things go and
to waken without excess stone,
free of the sea’s raveling, the duress
of the house when I am alone.

We have picked our way past the tombs,
round ruins and the land that we have

exhumed: graves splayed up uneven
from earth like bark curling off
a branch — ragged corridors through
to wilderness, jagged nudgings of
history, then the city’s padlocked pores.

Again the ring of cliffs — a country is moulded
by borders, by dreams beyond its doors —

like you, the cliffs communicate in
deliberate discolorations, like sun-marks
on ancient vellum, or how copper
greens in airy susurration —
limestone bruises and preens like the city
pitched against a carhorn’s pumice and keen:

bone-stalks of briars. Bones bronzed by dredged-up
desires, buried. Nothing is ever hurried.

VII
You only arise to remind me that
I am not sleeping: to sleep is to
escape gravity, how you erupt into
being like birds from hillside and
heather, hedging between foliage
and hollow air, cliff face and sea —

how you hedge within me between tomb and
house, womb and a great country

barely beyond my looming body. The bar
devours distance and light devours
time — just ahead of speech, tightened
and out of sight then padlocked into
my pores — how my body is carved
by dreams beyond its doors.

You are sudden material — the words that hover,
the soil that buries, the quartz that covers.

You are the house’s extent: imagine a man
and a woman in pots and in paint,
between walls — silent, waiting to be seen.
Imagine I am walking toward them; imagine
that the house never moves and
the city is the caulking between us:

I negotiate on those terms, burying
to shore up all that is mine.


***
Ben Meyerson’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as Epignosis Quarterly, The Inflectionist Review, and Gnarled Oak, and he has a chapbook entitled “In A Past Life” coming out with The Alfred Gustav Press in 2016. He currently resides in Toronto, Canada.