Julia Burgdorff

Four Poems

A Return


In the empty house, in the evening, I turn the lights on. Outside, the blue deepens and spreads.


No boundary holds for long. Smoke pours from a chimney across the lake. Below me,


a star expands, sheds itself as wind. There is a thin layer of dust on the piano. I go to an upstairs bedroom


and hold the door shut. A moth hurls itself at the window. I keep asking the same question.




I’ll Never Learn


Remind me again, again, that nothing belongs to me. What I’ll get in the end is nothing.


For now, cracked branches, muck, a darkness preoccupied with fish, my name, silt-soft hair.


You take what I give you. You could always take more.


The lake gleams like a scar, the sky like a thin porcelain cup.


Thank you for taking my father slowly. It is so painful, I can no longer


distinguish between love and pain. Today he did not call for me, and I answered.






In the kitchen, he offers toast and I refuse. I stir my tea. When he offers again, I take it.


It’s getting late. The clouds are high and bright and the two black dogs have wandered to the lake.


They follow me inside to the worn-down rug, the hissing radiators. The cold gets in


wherever it can. Sometimes he can’t say my name and I wish I didn’t need it. But the fire


needs kindling and I need to wash the bread knife, return it to the drawer. Nothing disappears, only becomes


unrecognizable. Smoke pouring from the chimney. I always miss the exact moment.






As what can be sensed only by its taking as light circles an absence, I do not know it


but I know it’s close. The trees are shaking, darker silvers


folding into sky. The rain will come in almost-dark as swallows low in the field


forget me. Already I am a memory of myself and I know I will be lost


along with the rest of him, lost like time or light, not gone from the world but buried


more deeply inside it. Tonight, deep in the spell of the field at night, planetary wind, swallows tracing the dark, the rain in my mouth.