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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.

 

 

 

Tending

 

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.

 

 

 

Myth

 

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.